Plant of the Month ~~ JULY 2009
Chalk live-forever's foliage is probably the most recognizable part of the plant - the basal rosette of fleshy, gray-green, pointed-spatulate leaves. The rosette can measure a foot and a half in diameter and about the same in height. Older leaves at the plant's base dry out, turn reddish, and have a papery feel. From May to July, one to several chalky flower stalks form and extend out from the main plant by up to 3 feet. Each stalk becomes loaded with 10-30 small, hanging, unopened-looking red flowers. A chalky, powdery wax covers most of the plant's surfaces.
Chalk live-forever needs good drainage and thus is most commonly found on the sides of sandy, rocky cliffs. It grows well near the coast (enjoying coastal moisture as succulents do) and also tolerates hotter inland areas provided it has a bit of afternoon shade. It is an attractive plant that can make a nice addition to rock gardens or be used in xeriscaping.
The species name pulverulenta means "dust covered", and the genus Dudleya is named after William Russel Dudley, a professor of botany at Stanford in the late 1800's to early 1900's.
Contributed by Liz Baumann
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References:Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley
Flowering Plants: The Santa Monica Mountains, Coastal and Chaparral Regions of Southern California, by Nancy Dale
Roadside Plants of Southern California, by Thomas J. Belzer
California Native Plants for the Garden, by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien
California Herbal Remedies, by LoLo Westrich