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Orostachys spinosa (Dunce's Caps)


Scientific Name

Orostachys spinosa (L.) Sweet

Common Names

Dunce's Caps, Dunce Cap, Chinese Dunce 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 with low, spiny, globose, grey rosette up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter at maturity. The fleshy, grey-green leaves, with white, soft, spiny tips, are arranged in a symmetrical, crowded pattern around the rosettes. Racemes of small, insignificant, greenish-yellow flowers are produced on short stems up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall, from the center of the rosettes. This succulent is monocarpic and the individual rosette dies once it flowers, but new offset rosettes are usually developed first.

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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 survive 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. This plant doesn't tolerate high humidity well. It grows actively in spring and summer.

Orostachys self-propagates through offshoots and given time 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 which 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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