Sempervivum arachnoideum L.
Cobweb Hen and Chick, Cobweb Houseleek, Cobweb Sedum, Spider Web Hens and Chicks
Sedum arachnoideum, Sempervivum doellianum, Sempervivum heterotrichum
Sempervivum arachnoideum is a succulent plant that forms a mat of compact rosettes of green leaves, usually with brown or red tips and covered with cobwebby hairs. The rosettes are subglobose and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter. Leaves oblanceolate to oblong-obovate, incurved, up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) long and up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) wide. Flowers are pink, star-shaped, 8- to 10-merous, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) across, and appear in 5- to 15-flowered on up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) tall stalks with red-tipped leaves with apical tuft of arachnoid hairs in summer. The mother rosette "hen" dies after flowering but produces many offsets "chicks" before it dies.
This species is highly variable in the size and hairiness of the rosettes.
USDA hardiness zones 5a to 8b: from −20 °F (−28.9 °C) to 20 °F (−6.7 °C).
How to Grow and Care
It is relatively easy to grow in a container, rock garden, scree bed, wall crevice, trough, or alpine house. It is ideal in many ways, as it quickly forms very tight clusters of rosettes, filling in Sempervivum walls, mosaics, and topiary. Their shallow yet fibrous root systems hold soil in place even in vertical plantings. After the plant blooms and sets seed, it will die, but many offsets will take its place.
Plant in a well-drained succulent soil mix in full sun to light shade. Water regularly during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Water very little during the winter months.
The crushed leaves or their juice are applied externally to boils, wounds, etc. They are also used to stop nose bleeds. The slightly warmed juice has been used to relieve ear inflammations, and toothaches can be relieved by chewing on the leaves. When macerated and infused in vinegar, the plant can be used to get rid of warts and corns.
The leaves are harvested in the summer and are best used when fresh since they are difficult to dry properly. The leaf pulp is used to make a cooling face mask for reddened or sunburned skin.
Subspecies, Cultivars, and Hybrids
- Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. bryoides
- Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum
- Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Cebenese'
- Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Emily'
- Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Robin'
- Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Rubrum'
- Sempervivum arachnoideum 'Viridescens'
- Sempervivum ×barbulatum
- Back to genus Sempervivum
- Succupedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
Click on a photo to see a larger version.