Sempervivum tectorum (Common Houseleek)

Sempervivum tectorum (Common Houseleek)

Scientific Name

Sempervivum tectorum L.

Common Names

Houseleek, Common Houseleek, Liveforever, Hen and Chickens, Old Man and Woman, Roof Houseleek, Hens and Chicks, Bullock’s Beard, Bullock’s Eye, Devil’s Beard, Earwort, Fuet, Healing Blade, Homewort, Imbroke, Jove’s Beard, Jupiter’s Beard, Jupiter’s Eye, Poor Jan’s Leaf, Roof Foil, Sengreen, St Patrick’s Cabbage, Thunder Plant, Welcome-Home-Husband-However-Drunk-You-Be

Scientific Classification

Family: Crassulaceae
Subfamily:  Sedoideae
Tribe:  Sedeae 
Subtribe:  Sedinae
Genus:  Sempervivum


Color:  Red-purple
Bloom Time:  Summer


Sempervivum tectorum is an evergreen, perennial, mat-forming succulent that typically forms rosettes up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. The leaves are glabrous, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, grey-green and sometimes purple-tipped. Rosette foliage typically grows up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall. The mother rosette spreads in all directions by horizontal stems to form offsets. In summer, leafy, pubescent, upright flowering stalks rise from the mother rosette to as much as 12 inches (30 cm) tall topped with cymes of red-purple flowers.

Sempervivum tectorum - Common Houseleek

How to Grow and Care

Sempervivums are not difficult to grow, provided they are not waterlogged and killed from excess watering. They can be easily grown outdoors and in containers, and they earned the name “Houseleeks” from their tendency to root on the roofs of houses. After the mother plant flowers, it will naturally die, but by this time, the plant has likely produced many offsets that will continue to grow. These are excellent for cold windows. Sempervivum earned their popular name “Hen and Chicks” from their growth habit. The mother plant, or hen, sends off numerous offsets, which will cluster around her base like chicks. These offsets can be easily repotted, or the plants can be left to form a clumping mat.

See more at How to Grow and Care for Sempervivum.


The juice and leaves have been used in folk remedies for centuries, for their coolant, anti-inflammatory, astringent and diuretic properties. Bruised leaves of the fresh plant or the juice from the plant can be used as poultices for burns, scalds, ulcers and any inflammation as the pain is quickly reduced. Honey mixed with the juice helps relieve the pain of mouth ulcers.

See more at Houseleek: Superstitions, History and Medicinal Benefits.


Native to the Mountains of Western, Central and Southern Europe, from Pyrenees to Alps, Apennines and Dinarides.


BACK TO genus Sempervivum
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