With its often reddish-brown colour, this small, annual representative of the Crassulaceae family often adds a little variety to the green Alpine grassland communities. The fleshy leaves allow it to withstand long periods of drought.
The Dark Stonecrop grows 3–8 cm high. It has fleshy leaves and its flower heads support 3–6 flowers. These are white to yellow-green and usually have red stripes. The plant often has a reddish-brown tinge.
Facts and Figures
The reddish-brown colour is caused by the presence of anthocyanins. These are plant dyes that can cause red, blue or purple discolouration. Well-known examples of plants that contain anthocyanins are cornflowers and red cabbage. These dyes are found only in plants but not in animals. They help to protect plants from UV rays by absorbing them and releasing them as heat to the plant.
The Dark Stonecrop is found in Central and Southern Europe. In Switzerland, it is found within and on the edges of the Alps, and occasionally in the Jura region. It grows on calcareous and very nutrient-deficient grassland and scree. It is very common on the Gornergrat. more information