Sedum Society

The real Sedum hintonii

Arturo Anaya of Mexico describes how he rediscovered this long-lost species.

My first trip to the central western coast, to the state known as Michoacan in Mexico was with some Americans, and then 4 years later with some friends from Italy who wanted to see some new things of cacti. The plant was first found by looking for Hechtia glauca (a terrestrial bromeliad - I still have not found it). We arrived at the Infiernillo's dam, to a town of the same name. As in many field trips, the best source of trustworthy information is from the local people, who in this area are normally poor just live from grazing and planting corn, so from their routine walks through habitats they know the plants from their own place.

Asking in a small road side shop (called "tienditas"), where you could buy a quick snack, a nice teenager told us that in a mountain called "Cerro de la Lumbre", literally the mountain of fire, many plants grow there which grow nowhere else, so with the truck we had (an old GMC, 8 cylinder) we were in a good mood to go and explore.

In the rocky banks of the singular unpaved road (dust road actually) just above the truck beautiful plants of Ferocactus lindsayii grew everywhere, flowering and made huge clumps - it was like a Mardi-grass of cactus.

Meanwhile as attention was focussed on the ferocactus, I walked a few metres, to an rocky cliff not exposed to the sun, and just perhaps 1 m above the water level of a small stream, small clumps of a Sedum were growing on the cracks full of humus, everywhere. Something to remark on is the fact that it never grows exposed to the sun (the sunlight is quite intense here); in the same habitat there are other succulent plants such as Plumeria, Peniocereus, Pilosocereus, Opuntia and caudiciform plants.

At first I was not too excited about this new Sedum, because sedums change from place to place and it's quite difficult to tell the species apart. But when Dr. Meyran (a well know cactus and succulent specialist) first saw the plant, he was quite exited. I gave a plant to the botanical collection of the National Mexican University, but, as always, the lack of will and the amount of work meant that the pot stayed there without being studied. I sent an article about this first trip to an Italian journal and they published the image from this Sedum, which was when Mr. Ray Stephenson contacted me. He was fairly sure that this was the true S. hintonii but needed to know that the inflorescences were far longer than those of S. mocinianum, a commonly grown relative almost always carrying the label "Sedum hintonii" [see Figure 11].

Figure 9. Sedum hintonii growing as a mat on a shaded cliff alongside bromeliads and cacti. All photographs in this section by the author.

Figure 10. A. small group of Sedum hintonii rosettes growing on a sheer, damp, shady cliff face. The species is not in cultivation but it is easy to see how S. mocinianum was confused. Figure 11. Note the length of the inflorescences of Sedum hintonii compared to those of Sedum mocinianum twice distributed by the I.S.I. with the label "S. hintonii