Sempervivum - Ruby Heart
A hardy plant with low weed potential, a wide variety of medicinal uses, and low pest potential provides a great addition to any plot.
Scientific Name: Sempervivum tectorum
Common Name: Ruby Heart, Hens and Chicks, Houseleeks
Plant Family: Crassulaceae
Etymology: Sempervivum means always living, and tectorum means on roofs.
The young leaves and shoot can be eaten raw, and the juice from the leaves can be extracted and used as a beverage.
Ruby heart has a wide variety of medicinal uses. The leaves and juice can be applied to small wounds to reduce bleeds, and have a cooling effect. In this way they have similar effects to aloe vera, and can be applied to most skin diseases, bee stings, and wounds.
Originated in Europe, and since has been brought to America, growing from USDA zone 4 and up.
How to Identify
Grow up to six inches, and flower from June to July. The flower color can range from pink to white, including shades of yellow and green. The plant is star-shaped with at least 7 petals.
The plant can act as a laxative and may induce vomiting if eaten in excess.
- USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-10
- Native Range: Mountain belts throughout Europe
- Forest Garden Layer: groundcover
- Permaculture functions: groundcover, food, beverage, medicine
- Soil texture: loamy and sandy soils, can withstand acidic, alkaline, and neutral soil pH
- Height: 3-6”
- Spread: 6-8”
- Growth rate: medium growth rate
- Sun: full sun
- Bloom: June - July
- Attracts: deer, rabbits, bees
- Tolerates: deer, pests, drought, dry soil, rocky soil
- Drawbacks: ingredients must be used fresh, self-pollination is difficult.
- Hens and Chicks. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/chiwonlee/plsc211/student papers/articles11/hbarrett/origins of hens and chicks.html
- Houseleek Sempervivum tectorum. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/s/sempervivum-tectorum=houseleek.php
- Sempervivum ‘Ruby Heart’ (Hens and Chicks). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gardenia.net/plant/sempervivum-ruby-heart
- Sempervivum: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://garden.org/plants/group/sempervivum/