Ditch Stonecrop, Star Fruit, Virginia Stonecrop
Synonyms of Penthorum sedoides (3) (Updated on 3-14-21): Sedum penthorum Crantz, Penthorum circinale Salisb., Penthorum sedoides f. leucosperma Svenson
Penthorum sedoides L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Ditch Stonecrop. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists two species of Penthorum. The genus is also a member of its own family, Penthoraceae.
The above distribution map for Penthorum sedoides is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. Besides being native to the eastern half of North America, it is also a native of Vietnam. The USDA Plants Database map is similar for North America. The species may be more widespread than what the maps show/
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I found a few of these plants along the pond in the back of the farm while taking wildflower photos on September 18, 2019. There were no flowers at the time, but I was able to identify them from their fruit.
Penthorum sedoides is a perennial plant that grows 1-3’ tall that either grows a single stem or branches out in the upper half.
Stems can be either smooth (glabrous) or slightly hairy (pubescent) and grow in an alternate pattern.
As I said, there were no flowers when I took these photographs. Of course, for this plant, the fruit is the most interesting thing and I am not even going to try to describe them in understandable English. You can visit the websites below for “botanical” descriptions. The seedpods turn a reddish color in the fall, but I didn’t get photos of that either. I catch up writing wildflower pages over the winter so I can’t very well go back and have a look. 🙂
Leaves are up to 4” long x 1” across. The leaves are short-stemmed (petiolate) or can be stemless (sessile), finely serrated (serrulate), kind of broadly lance-shaped (elliptic or narrowly ovate), and taper to a point (acuminate). Leaves may be kind of rough due to their fine hairs.
I was fairly busy in the summer of 2020 so I didn’t get to take more photos of the Penthorum sedoides until September 20. I did manage to find a few flowers, but the photos were kind of blurry so I couldn’t add them.
The upper stems terminate with a cluster of flowers called cymes or cyme-like panicles that are 1-3” across. Each cyme produces 2-4 flowering stalks (pedicels). The flowers usually have no petals (apetalous).
The photos of the flowers on other websites are pretty interesting, so I’ll have to see if I can get photos in 2021. Missouri Plants says flowering is from July-October so I will have to make a note of that. 🙂
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street) and other areas. The city limits is also across the street and the north and south side of the farm. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
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