The genus was described by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Since that time many plant species have been moved from one genus to another, family names have changed, not to mention the many thousands that have been discovered and became extinct.
The Sedum genus is a very large and diverse group of plants. I was in correspondence with Margrit Bischofberger of the International Crassulaceae Network in 2013 and she had this to say:
“The genus Sedum in a wide sense has been used to accommodate a great number of sometimes fairly diverse plants. At the end of the last century botanists have begun to separate certain groups with distinctive features and give them new names, > Phedimus, > Hylotelephium, < Rhodiola, > Orostachys etc.”…
When I first started doing plant name and author research in 2009 it was very difficult to figure out their real scientific names online. One website would say this name and another would give a different name. Then when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in 2013, I bought a new computer and had full internet access again. Luckily, I found The Plant List (version 1.0 from 2010) which was a cooperative effort between The Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. I was also using other databases I found online as a cross-reference. Sometimes they would say the same thing and sometimes they wouldn’t. Then sometime in 2013, version 1.1 came out and many names changed. After a few years, no updates had been made and names were changing on other databases. I sent the editor of The Plant List an email in late 2017 because of a misspelling I found and I received a reply from Raphael Goverts, Senior Content Editor from Kew. He informed me that The Plant List was no longer being maintained and sent me a link to their NEW Plants of the World Online… They launched this website in 2017 and he said they were still uploading data but hoped to be finished in 2020. MAN, did I have a lot of names to change! Since then I have sent him many emails and he always promptly replies.
I sent him an email about the Sedum genus in August 2018 because The Missouri Botanical Garden and Tropicos (a division of Missouri Botanical Garden) still maintained several species in the Sedum genus belonged to other genera. In his reply he said:
“As to Sedum, POWO (Plants of the World Online) still takes a wide view of the genus because there is not yet an agreed system to deal with it. Most of the research has been done in Europe on European species for which a number of genera have been made but it is unclear how they relate to the Asian and American species. So until this is settled we will retain a large Sedum.”
When I checked on March 30, 2018, Plants of the World Online lists 357 accepted species in the Sedum genus. As I am updating this page on August 25, their list has grown to 361. The 2013 update of The Plant List named 392 accepted species, a total of 655 synonyms, and 429 names still unresolved…
The Wikipedia article on Sedum was updated on March 23, 2018, and it says there are 470 species but it doesn’t list where they obtained their information. None of their references were even current. That was in March so it may be different now if the page has been updated…
There are MANY popular species of Sedum and cultivars available that are cold tolerant in different zones which makes them a very versatile genus for sure.
Sedums are succulent plants, some of which are annuals, perennials, herbs, and shrubs.
The taller Sedums, such as the popular cultivar called ‘Autumn Joy’, were moved to the Hylotelephium genera. Now, according to plants of the World Online, that genus is a synonym of Sedum AGAIN… BACK AND FORTH! HA! The Wikipedia article still says it is an accepted genus with 33 species. So a few years ago they confused us and once we get used to it, they change it back. GEEZ!
There has also been a lot of controversy between the Sedum and Phedimus. Plants of the World online say the Phedimus genus is now a synonym of Sedum so I can imagine how many Crassulaceae experts feel about that. Many books and articles have been published explaining the differences between the genera only to have polygenetic testing and other means to prove them wrong.
Sedums have long been one of my favorite genera of plants. I have tried many species and cultivars that have survived our zone 6a winters and some have not. I brought several with me when I moved from Mississippi back here only to find they couldn’t handle our winters. Others thrive here with no problem.
Most Sedum do very well in full sun to light shade. They need a very well-draining soil and do particularly well in raised beds and containers where they spill over the sides. Raised beds and containers also allow for better drainage.
I added several pages of Sedum which represent the species and cultivars I have experience with. That number will grow as I try new ones. Each page has links to information particular to that species or cultivar which I hope you find useful. You can check out the links below for further reading about the genus.
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