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Aichryson tortuosum (Gouty Houseleek)


Scientific Name

Aichryson tortuosum (Aiton) Webb & Berthel.

Common Names

Gouty Houseleek


Aeonium tortuosum, Aichryson pulvinatum, Aichryson pygmaeum, Aichryson radicescens, Macrobia tortuosa, Sempervivum pulvinatum, Sempervivum pygmaeum, Sempervivum radicescens, Sempervivum tortuosum

Scientific Classification

Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Sedoideae
Tribe: Sedeae 
Subtribe: Sedinae
Genus: Aichryson


Aichryson tortuosum is a perennial shrublet, up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall, with dense, tortuous branches. Stems are hairy, often glabrous below and up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) in diameter. It has hairy, green leaves tinged purplish-red, up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) long and up to 0.25 inch (0.6 cm) wide. The star-shaped flowers are deep yellow, up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) across and appear in winter. It is a very variable species and the true, unhybridized specimen is rarely seen in cultivation.

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Aichrysons grow as understory plants in the endemic laurel and pine forests of the Canary Islands and prefer to grow in slightly shaded moist soil with plenty of humus. They tolerate a cool, frost-free winter kept fairly dry. Some species are annuals or biennials, but the shrubby perennials also need to be re-started from cuttings on a regular basis to be at their best. Many species produce volunteer seedlings around themselves after flowering.

These succulents are very tolerant of mixed conditions and will tolerate considerable shade as well as full sun. Given the right conditions, these plants will provide an incredible show of yellow flowers. Grow these plants hard with very little fertilizer because they can flower themselves to death. Aichrysons have a very structural trunk and make excellent bonsai subjects.

In winter they require a rather sunny spot inside at moderate, cool temperatures. If they become too large, plants can be cut back. Cuttings will easily root within a few days. These ornamental dwarf plants are excellent pot plants and will thrive in any partially shaded spot at cool temperatures, e.g. on a window sill.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aichryson.


Aichryson tortuosum is native to Canary Islands.



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