Lance-leaved dudleya (Dudleya lanceolata) is a succulent belonging to the Sedum Family (Crassulaceae). Another common name for this perennial native is lanceleaf liveforever. W.R. Dudley (1849 – 1911), the first head of the Stanford University Botany Department, is honored by the genus designation. The specific epithet, lanceolata, means “lance like” and refers to the shape of the leaves.
Lance-leaved dudleya is a variable plant that often hybridizes with other Dudleya species. A basal rosette of lance-like leaves with acute tips emerges from a caudex or rootstock. Typically there are 10 to 25 green to purplish red basal leaves. The flower stem, on which there are several triangular to ovate bracts, rises from the side of the basal rosette.
The inflorescence is branched two or three times. Lance-leaved dudleya flowers can be orange to red and less often are yellow or even rarely green. The flower has 5 sepals fused below, five petals fused at the base and spreading above, ten stamens and five carples (female structures). The fruits are follicles containing many brown, ovoid seeds.
Found in California and Baja, lance-leaved dudleya grows on rocky slopes up to about 4,300 feet. These plants were photographed along the Bear Gulch Trail in Pinnacles National Park CA.
Lance-leaved dudleya is valued as an ornamental and house plant. Numbers are decreasing because of collectors who sell native specimens internationally and in the United States. A recent California law provides protection for Dudleya species against these poachers.