Aeonium smithii


Aeonium smithii is also known by these synonyms listed below:

Aeonium smithianum
Sempervivum foliosum
Sempervivum smithii


Aeonium smithii is native to the Canary Islands, specifically Tenerife. It is typically found in rocky and arid habitats, often growing on cliffs or rocky outcroppings. It is a semi-desert succulent, meaning it can tolerate dry conditions but still requires occasional watering. Its altitude range of occurrance is rather wide, extending from 150 to almost 2150 meters above the sea leavel. It grows in the sub-alpine zone. They can be found sprouting from cracks of rocks, under severe environmental conditions.


Aeonium smithii is a succulent plant that forms rosettes of leaves at the tips wooden branches. It is, surprisingly, a deciduous plant, and has many other features that distinguish it markedly from other Aeoniums. The leaves are velvety, dark purple-black in color, and have a thick, fleshy texture. The plant can reach up to 2.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The leaves are typically arranged in a rosette and are typically 1-2 inches long. Aeonium smithii is a slow-growing plant that can take several years to reach maturity. The stem is simple, erect or ascending, up to 2.5 feet (75 cm) tall and to 30 millimeters in diameter. It is wooden and densely covered in brownish hair, 3 to 8 millimeters long. Older stems often loose their hair. The spoon-shaped succulent leaves are arranged in groups of 3 to 7 in a rosette growing in winter-spring, 3.2-6.4 inches (8-16 cm) long and 0.8-1.6 inches (2-4 cm) wide. They show brownish, tannic stripes on their lower face, as well as lengthwise purple or brownish dashes, which are actually thickened water-storing structures. They also have odd, wavy margins. The flowers are yellow, 2.5 centimeters across, and are produced in clusters on tall, slender stems. The blooming period is between March and October.


Aeonium smithii a rare species in cultivation, but it is very sought after by collectors for its peculiar features, that distinguish it from any other Aeonium, and its rarity. It is best grown in a well-drained, sandy soil: a succulent mix specific for succulents will do good. It prefers a sunny to partly shaded location and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but should be protected from frost. We advise thus to place it indoors in Winter. Watering frequency should be kept to a minimum, only when the soil is completely dry to the touch. During the growth season, when it has the leaves, provide some water, tough very rarely. When leaves fall, instead, the plant enters dormancy and watering should be completely suspended or reduced to once a month. It can be planted in a rock garden, a pot, or a balcony, it also can be grown in a hanging pot. The plant’s growth rate is slow, so repotting will not be required often. Fertilization is not necessary, but if desired, it should be done in the spring. Aeonium smithii is a drought tolerant plant that can survive long periods of dryness, but it does not like to be waterlogged.


Aeonium smithii can be propagated by seeds, stem cuttings, or by removing offsets from the base of the plant. It is best to propagate stem cuttings in the summer when the plant is actively growing.


The name “Aeonium” comes from the Greek word “aionos” which means “ageless” or “everlasting.” This is fitting for a plant that can live for many years. The species name “smithii” is in honor of the botanist James Edward Smith. The leaves of Aeonium smithii are often used in floral arrangements because of their unique dark purple-black color. The plant is not known to have any medicinal uses.

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