You don’t need me to tell you how the cobweb houseleek (hen-and-chicks, or in botanical terms, Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum) got its folk name. Those with a fear or spiders or a compulsion to dust might find this plant unsettling. If it looks on the creepy side, try to imagine the leaves are playing cat’s cradle.
Delicate webbing covers each chick from infancy, stretching out as the evergreen rosette swells to maturity.
Sempervivums look to the next generation, producing lots of tiny offsets. When the pink, star shaped flowers eventually appear, they have male and female parts as an insurance policy. Once a rosette has produced a flowering stem it will die, leaving the multitude of pups to fill out its place.
The plant will sulk if its feet are allowed to stay wet, requiring a sunny spot and good drainage. Given that, you can pretty much ignore them to your heart’s content. Traditionally grown on rock walls, gravel gardens and roofs, sempervivums were believed to offer protection to those who grew them.
The plant’s original cultivar name is ‘Clärchen’. This flowering specimen was labelled Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Clairchen’ in RHS Harlow Carr’s glasshouse. Online, I also found ‘Clarchen’ and ‘Claerchen’. Take your pick!
Shared for Cee’s Flower of the Day.
31 Replies to “Woolly Cobweb Houseleek: Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Clärchen’”
I love the detail of the tiny flowers and the webby leaf-tips. 🙂
Nature’s patterns repay our looking with wonder.
My favorite. Lovely blooms.
The leaf shape reminds me of a (very regular and sturdy) double rose.
The flowers are glorious. I wonder what the purpose of the “spider webs” – another way to retain moisture?
I don’t know. It puzzles me too.
That now old and really lame movie ‘Arachnophobia’ was filmed near where my colleague and I were in school at the time. Coincidentally, he (a horticulturist who works outside) is terrified of spiders. I wrote about how bad it is for him.
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