Flowering branches erect. Leaves: alternate, crowded, but scarcely imbricated except on the sterile shoots, sessile, linear, entire. Flowers: in a three-to-seven forked cyme, compact; petals narrowly lanceolate, very acute, much exceeding the calyx-lobes.
This plant is well named Sedum, from sedere " to sit," for it sits very happily, and in lowly fashion, upon the bleak bald hills at high altitudes. It is a most uncanny plant. The tiny, pale green, juicy leaves, crowded on the thick short stems, are, like human flesh, easily bruised; and each of the bright yellow flowers, which grow in dense clusters, has four or five narrow pointed petals. There are ten stamens, the alternate ones being attached to the petals. The five erect carpels are tipped with long conspicuous and divergent styles, crowned by fat stigmas.
The smooth clammy foliage of the Stonecrop reminds the traveller forcibly of the narrow gap which lies between the Animal and the Vegetable Kingdoms, for the touch of its fleshy leaves is most repulsive, resembling that of some cold moist body. Fortunately, however, it is redeemed from being entirely objectionable by the twinkling little golden blossoms, which are as healthy and natural in their appearance as the foliage is the very reverse.
"Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies. I hold you here, root and all, in my hand, Little flower - but if I could understand What you are, root and all, and all in all, I should know what God and man is."
' No deeper thought was ever uttered by poet," says John Fiske, in his beautiful work, Through Nature to God; " for in this world of plants, which, with its magician, chlorophyll, conjuring with sunbeams, is ceaselessly at work bringing life out of death - in this quiet vegetable world we may find the elementary principles of all life in almost visible operation."
Care must be taken not to confuse the Yellow Saxifrage with the Stonecrop. The former has tiny, thin, ordinary leaves, while the latter has leaves that are thick, fleshy, and very juicy. This peculiar foliage of the Stonecrop enables it to retain a quantity of moisture during the dry season, an attribute which proves extremely useful, since it grows in crevices and crannies between the rocks, where the sparse dry soil affords little or no sustenance to the roots; hence its ability to imbibe and retain moisture through its leaves renders it fit to flourish on these sandy and stony slopes.