Narrow leaf stonecrop (Sedum stenopetalum) is a native perennial growing in well-drained, rocky habitats (talus, steep ridges, cliffs) from mid to high elevations. It can be found in California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming as well as British Columbia and Alberta. These specimens were photographed on a rock outcrop (scab land) along Modoc National Forest Road 43N96A near Cedar Pass CA (Modoc County).
Nonflowering narrow leaf stonecrop stems are prostrate and root freely, forming mats. The flowering stems are clustered.
The leaves are both basal and cauline (on the stem). The stem leaves are alternate with a ridge toward the outside. Individual narrow leaf stonecrop leaves are lance-shaped, flattened, tapering to a point and often curved. The succulent leaves often fall before the plant flowers.
There are two varieties of narrow leaf stonecrop, depending on the number of flowers in the inflorescence. One variety has a solitary flower atop the stem while the other variety has many flowers at the end of each stem. Each yellow flower, sometimes with a red midrib on each of the five lance-shaped petals, has five sepals and ten stamens with yellow to light brown anthers.
Narrow leaf stonecrop fruits are pods (five per flower) containing numerous minute, brownish seeds that are pointed at each end.
Another common name for S stenopetalum is wormleaf stonecrop. The genus name comes from the Latin “sedo” meaning “to sit” and refers to the way in which some species attach themselves to stones or walls. The species designation means narrow leaf from the Greek “stenos”/narrow.
A member of the Stonecrop Family (Crassulaceae), narrow leaf stonecrop employs a form of photosynthesis known as crassulacean acid metabolism, the topic of my next post.