The Cobweb Houseleek is very aptly named – its leaves look as if a particularly hard-working spider has been at work. This plant tends to be small, but its pretty, carmine-red flowers tower into the air and are easily visible.
The Cobweb Houseleek grows between 5–15 cm tall and forms small rosettes. Its fleshy leaves are equipped with glandular hairs and are connected to each other at the tips by hairs. It is a perennial, evergreen plant, which explains the origin of the genus name Sempervivum, which is derived from the Latin words for “always” and “living”. Like bananas, houseleeks only bloom once in their lifetime, then they die off (monocarpic plants). In the case of houseleeks, it is the single rosette that dies after flowering.
Facts and Figures
Folklore decreed that the houseleek had magical properties and it was planted on rooftops to protect buildings from lightning strikes and to bring good luck. The length of its flowering stems and the colour of its flowers were also said to predict future events.
The Cobweb Houseleek is widespread in the mountains of Central and Southern Europe. In Switzerland, it is usually found on silicate rock in the Alps.