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Orostachys spinosa (Spiny Pennywort)


Scientific Name

Orostachys spinosa (L.) Sweet

Common Names

Chinese Dunce Cap, Dunce Cap, Dunce's Caps, Spiny Dunce's Cap, Spiny Pennywort


Cotyledon spinosa (basionym), Cotyledon erubescens, Crassula spinosa, Orostachys erubescens, Sedum erubescens, Sedum spinosum, Umbilicus erubescens, Umbilicus spinosus

Scientific Classification

Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily: Sedoideae
Tribe: Sedeae
Subtribe: Umbilicinae
Genus: Orostachys


Orostachys spinosa is a small, very slow-growing succulent that forms low, globose rosettes of fleshy, grey-green leaves, with white, soft spiny tips. The rosettes grow up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Leaves are arranged in a symmetrical, crowded pattern around the rosettes. Racemes of small, insignificant, greenish-yellow flowers are produced from the center of the rosettes on short stems up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. This succulent is monocarpic, and the individual rosette dies once it flowers, but new offset rosettes are usually developed first.

Orostachys spinosa (Dunce's Caps)

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USDA hardiness zones 4a to 8b: from −30 °F (−34.4 °C) to 20 °F (−6.7 °C).

How to Grow and Care

As with most similar genera of Crassulaceae family, this plant can survive in fairly poor soil, so long as it is well-draining. This genera is very cold-hardy and can withstand temperatures to -30 °F (-34 °C). Allow soil to dry to the touch between waterings, and avoid getting water on the rosettes. Orostachys requires some bright light and doesn't tolerate high humidity well. It grows actively in spring and summer.

Orostachys self-propagates through offshoots and given time, and one plant will form a dense mat of many. Propagation is primarily through offset separation.

To separate an offset, remove soil from the base of the offset to find the stolon (thick root which attaches the pup to the mother plant). It is best to use an offset that has already established some roots of its own. Cut the stolon close to the pup (to discourage roots growing from the stolon). Place the offset into a small pot with well-draining, sandy soil. Do not water until new growth is noted. See more at How to Grow and Care for Orostachys.


Orostachys spinosa is native to the arid areas in Mongolia, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan.


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