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Aeonium   Webb & Berthelot 1840
Greek: aionion = everliving (attributed to Dioscorides).

The genus Aeonium includes at least 35 species of tender, rosetted, leaf succulents mainly from the Canary Islands but also found in Madeira, Morocco and Ethiopia. These succulent plants vary in size from small herbs almost flat against the ground to woody shrubs with stout basal stems supporting a disc-shaped rosette, giving them a distinctive appearance. Flowers are panicles of numerous small yellow or white florets. Some Aeoniums are monocarpic.
Natural hybrids are common and there are many attractive horticultural hybrids and cutivars. The sap of Aeonium lindleyi is a traditional antidote to the toxic sap of Euphorbias e.g. E. canariensis.
Aeonium includes the former genera Greenonium and Greenovia (Mountain Roses), which may be seen occasionally on plant labels and in old books. Many species were originally classified as Sempervivums.


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Aeonium arboreum cv. Schwartzkopf
Photo: Cherry Trenge 2003
Aeonium arboreum cv. Schwartzkopf offsetting Aeonium arboreum cv. Schwartzkopf flower

Aeonium arboreum cv. Schwartzkopf (Zwartkop)  Webb & Berthelot 1840
This selected cultivar has a large rosette of almost black succulent leaves which is often seen as a feature plant in summer bedding. There are several similar cultivars with black rosettes. The ordinary green Aeonium arboreum is commoner in nature but seen less frequently in cultivation. The green form colours up in full sun to a lesser extent.

A large Aeonium arboreum produces an impressive panicle of small yellow flowers (above) and then dies. The plant usually offsets along the stem (above middle left) before dying. Non-flowering rosettes on a flowering plant survive and can be propagated for the next year.
Aeonium arboreum is native to the Canary Islands. Several varieties have been described.

Greenovia diplocycla Greenovia diplocycla

Aeonium aureum  T.H.M. Mes 1995  Syn. Greenovia diplocycla Webb ex Bolle 1859
Under dry conditions the succulent leaves close up into a ball to conserve moisture, but this species is more usually seen as a spiralling 10in rosette of glaucous green leaves, often offsetting to form clumps. The inflorescence is a large panicle of small yellow flowers.
Native to lava cliffs of the Canary Islands (La Palma, El Hierro and la Gomera) at elevations of up to 6000ft above sea level.

Aeonium canariense var. palmense flower

Aeonium canariense var. palmense  H.Y. Liu 1989  Syn: Aeonium palmense

Native to the Canary Islands (La Plama, El Hierro).

Aeonium cuneatum

Aeonium cuneatum  Webb & Berthelot 1840
Name: Latin cuneatum = wedge-shaped

This species has a very large stemless rosette of succulent leaves, sometimes clumping up by side shoots. The green leaves have a greyish coating which is easily spoiled by contact or by overhead watering. Leaf margins are reddened ciliate and there is a prominent reddened mucronate tip. The branching inflorescence has bright yellow flowers, opening flat.
Native to North-Eastern and North-Western Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
Photograph: on a display by Trewidden Nursery.

Aeonium decorum

Aeonium decorum  Webb ex Bolle 1859
This densely-branching succulent sub-shub has compact rosettes of ovate leaves, although the rosettes are planted out here as bedding.
Native to the Canary Islands (Gomera, Tenerife).

Aeonium gomerense flower

Aeonium gomerense  Praeger 1928

Native to the Canary Islands (Gomera).

Aeonium haworthii flower Aeonium haworthii

Aeonium haworthii  Salm-Dyck ex Webb & Berthelot 1840
A densely-branched shrubby succulent plant with flat blue-green 4 in rosettes, becoming reddened along leaf margins and tips. Leaf margins are finely ciliate. The inflorescence is a loose cluster of cream star-like flowers.
Native to the Canary Islands (Tenerife).

Aeonium hierrense

Aeonium hierrense  (Murray) J. Pitard & L. Proust 1909 (Giant Houseleek)
A very large Aeonium with a broad rosette up to 30 in diameter, formed from spatulate leaves with reddened ciliate margins, on a 3 ft stem patterned with old leaf scars. The leaf tips are often concave. Flowers are whiteish to pink in a domed panicle.
Native to El Hierro Island in the Canary Islands, growing at elevations of up to 2700 ft.
Photograph: on a display by Trewidden Nursery.

Aeonium leucoblepharum

Aeonium leucoblepharum  Webb ex Richard 1848
A perennial shrubby succulent plant. The older leaves of the light green rosettes become bronzed in strong light. The rounded ends of the leaves have a pointed tip and their margins are finely ciliate.
Native to Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Yemen, growing in mountains at elevations of 6500 - 11,000 ft.

Aeonium nobile

Aeonium nobile  Praeger 1929
Name: Latin nobile = notable, famous or excellent

This species has one of the largest rosettes of any Aeonium, up to 15 in in diameter. The individual light-green leaves with reddened margins are quite succulent and fleshy. The rosettes become bronzed in strong sun and may develop a short stem with age. The inflorescence is a panicle 1 ft in diameter and of a similar height, of many star-like red flowers with white stamens.
Native to the Canary Island of La Palma where it grows among volcanic rocks at elevations up to 2600 ft above sea level. Propagate from seed or from occasional suckers sent out by the rosette.

Aeonium sedifolium

Aeonium sedifolium  J. Pitard & L. Proust 1909
Name: sedifolium = leaves like a Sedum

This dwarf succulent shrub grows up to 15 in tall. The succulent leaves are slightly sticky, with some variation in form from obovate to spatulate. They may be streaked with red. The inflorescence is a cluster of yellow flowers, produced in Spring to early Summer.
Native to the Canary Islands (Tenerife, La Palma ) growing on cliffs at moderate elevations.

Aeonium simsii in flower

Aeonium simsii  Stearn 1951
The bluish-green lanceolate leaves of this small succulent plant have ciliate margins. The inflorescence is a peduncle of a few tens of greenish-yellow flowers on a leafy flower stem, arising from a basal leaf axil of the rosette.
Native to the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria), growing at elevations of up to 6000 ft.

Aeonium tabuliforme

Aeonium tabuliforme  Webb & Berthelot 1840
A flattened, stemless rosette of tightly-packed leaves up to 6in in diameter. Each leaf has a ciliated margin. This succulent plant is monocarpic and generally a biennial. When about to flower, the centre rises to surround the flower spike of many yellow flowers.
From the Canary Islands, especially cracks in lava cliffs of Tenerife where the plants grow at steep angles that prevent water from accumulating. Avoid getting water on the rosette.

Aeonium undulatum Aeonium undulatum flower Aeonium undulatum flower Aeonium undulatum flower  

Above: Aeonium undulatum  Webb and Berthelot 1841
The usually unbranched stems carry terminal, flattened, green rosettes up to 12 in in dameter. The individual succulent leaves are oblanceolate with fine ciliate margins which become reddened in full sun.
Native to the Canary Islands (Gran Canaria). The impressive rosettes and large flower head make a particularly fine specimen plant, but of course it will die after flowering so must be renewed from offsets.

Aeonium sp. (goodii?)

Aeonium sp.
Labelled as Aeonium goodii but I haven't been able to verify this as a valid name.
A distinctive succulent plant whose leaves have white margins.
See below: Aeonium goochiae cv. 'Ballerina'


Aeonium Hybrids and Cultivars

Natural hybridisation between Aeoniums is common and many attractive hybrids have been created by cross-breeding. The aim has often been to produce a more compact succulent plant instead of the "leggy" habit of many species.

Aeonium goochiae cv. 'Ballerina'

Aeonium goochiae cv. 'Ballerina'  Gordon Rowley 1983
This succulent shrub makes a dense mass of rosettes of slightly hairy, greyish-green leaves with white margins. There is some variation in form of the slightly sticky leaves and reversion to the un-variegated form occurs occasionally. All-green rosettes should be removed or they will become dominant.

Aeonium x 'Cornish Tribute'

Aeonium x 'Cornish Tribute'
A compact, low growing hybrid, bred at Trewidden Nursery, that forms a mound of many small light red rosettes with green centres. The lanceolate leaves have ciliate margins.

Aeonium x 'Kiwi'

Aeonium x 'Kiwi'
This Aeonium, thought to be a hybrid of Aeonium haworthii, has ovate green leaves with red margins. The newer leaves in the centre of the rosettes are yellow.
Seen on a display by Trewidden Nursery.

Aeonium x 'Logan Rock'

Aeonium x 'Logan Rock'
A freely branching, compact hybrid Aeonium, bred at Trewidden Nursery, whose purple rosettes have green centres.

Aeonium x 'Poldark'

Aeonium x 'Poldark'
A naturally-branching compact hybrid whose very dark rosettes have a touch of green in their centre. The succulent leaves have ciliate margins.
Seen on a display by Trewidden Nursery.

Aeonium simsii x schwarzkopf

Aeonium simsii x schwarzkopf
A hybrid with dark red, almost black rosettes with bright green centres. The lanceolate leaves have ciliate margins.
Seen on a display by Trewidden Nursery.

Aeonium arboreum cv. Schwartzkopf offsetting along stem


Aeoniums are easy to grow in a free-draining gritty compost on a sunny window ledge or the greenhouse. Aeoniums tolerate cool, frost-free conditions during the winter if kept dry. A few leaves may be dropped, but will soon be replaced in the Spring. Mealy bugs and vine weevils can be discouraged with a systemic insecticide. As with other Crassulaceae do not use Malathion.
Many Aeoniums are monocarpic and will die after flowering. However, non-flowering offsets on the plant will survive (left). New plants can be propagated from a rosette, which should ideally be cut with around an inch of basal stem below the leaves. Allow the cut end to dry off for a few days before potting up, and water sparingly until roots have formed.
Pests of Aeoniums include aphids, whitefly and mealy bugs. As with other Crassulaceae do not use Malathion and related insecticides. Watering with a systemic insecticide containing Imidacloprid will prevent infestation by most pests. If plants are kept outside during the Summer, it is a good idea to give a prophylactic dose before bringing indoors.