Monday, January 09, 2012

Elf orpine


I know you're thinking, "Oh my God! What IS that? It's red!"

If so, you may be a plant geek like me.

; )

I had the very same reaction when I saw photos of it in my copy of Favorite Wildflower Walks in Georgia after it was gifted to me on my very first weekend here. I couldn't wait to see this unique little plant in person.


Elf Orpine or Small's Stonecrop (Diamorpha smallii) is a succulent that grows on granite outcrops in the Southeastern US.

We first went looking for it back in late September... it's a winter annual, so it was still dormant on that first try. The cool and moist weather of the Georgia "winter" allow it to germinate when conditions are most favorable for the seeds to survive.


The plants are getting ready, now, to shoot up and flower in the early Spring.

(I'm not too sure, yet, when Spring hits here, but I'm guessing they'll flower in mid-March.)

I can only imagine how hot the rock on Arabia Mountain must get in summertime. It makes sense for these plants to sprout, grow, flower and set seed before the summer furnace comes on, I'd guess.

Elf Orpine grows here in shallow depressions in the granite, in very little soil. It's part of a small community of specially adapted plants that grow in the hollows, in something like dish gardens on the rock surface. Fascinating and pretty spectacular to see when blooming, I bet.

Stay tuned.

7 comments:

Caroline said...

Ok, you got me on the blog post title!
What a neat looking little plant, I have never heard of it, and what a cool name.
It is amazing some of the niches things choose to call home.

Dave said...

Very cool. I love extremophilic plants.

sandy said...

I thought it was British Soldiers until I looked close.
It is pretty.

LauraHinNJ said...

Caroline: I'd never heard of it, either. Now I'll have to be on the lookout for other Orpines!

; )

Dave: Yeah, me too... though I didn't know they're called that.

Sandy: I forget if I found British Soldiers growing there or not... there's other lichens growing... still need to learn about them. It'll be real pretty when it blooms, I hope.

Murr Brewster said...

I have a huge appreciation for little scrabbly plants, and the closer to the ground I have to get to see them, the more I like them. This stonecrop I don't know. Seems like there should be some guy in a kilt just coming over the brae.

Randa said...

Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing that!

MevetS said...

Yes, but is it as cool as broom crowberry?

:-P