A rather large family, widely distributed; odd-looking, mostly very succulent herbs, with smooth, fleshy leaves and stems, without stipules; flowers in clusters; sepals, petals, pistils, and stamens, all of the same number, usually four or five, sometimes the stamens twice as many; ovary superior; receptacle with honey-bearing scales, one behind each pistil; pistils separate, developing into small dry pods, containing few or many, minute seeds. Some of these plants look like tiny cabbages and we are all familiar with their tight little rosettes in the formal garden-beds of hotels and railway stations, where they are so stiff and unattractive that we hardly recognize them when we find them looking exceedingly pretty in their natural homes. The Latin name means "thick."

There are many kinds of Sedum, no one kind very widely distributed; fleshy herbs; leaves usually alternate; flowers star-like, often in one-sided clusters; stamens and pistils sometimes in different flowers on different plants; sepals and petals four or five; stamens eight or ten, on the calyx, the alternate ones usually attached to the petals; styles usually short. The Latin name means "to sit," because these plants squat on the ground, and Stonecrop is from their fondness for rocks.