Cliff Lettuce is the rather descriptive name of a succulent native to southern California
, Dudleya pulvurulenta
. The name derives from the fact that the plant can look a bit like a head of lettuce
, covered in flour. A cliff lettuce plant consists of a rosette
of leaves which can be up to two feet across. During early summer, it will also send up several spikes of flowers.
Cliff lettuce is common on the hottest, steepest south-facing slopes in the foothills and coastal mountains of Southern California. Often, it grows directly out of the sides of cliffs. Its thick succulent leaves and chalky coating allow it to survive in areas too dry for most other plants.
Despite the name, cliff lettuce is not edible. However, it would make an excellent addition to a rock garden, if given well drained soil and not watered frequently. (Please purchase native plants from a native plant nursery and do not steal them from the wild!) The plant looks a bit like the common 'hen and chicks' seen in houses throughout the state, but has a more striking color due to its chalky coating.