“Hens & Chicks” in the Herb Garden, September 2017

Blooming today in the Herb Garden: The Hens and Chicks plant blossoms only when the large central rosette, the hen (surrounded by the smaller rosettes, the chicks) is about three years old and ready to die. The plant sends up a stalk 6 to 15 inches above the rosette topped with purplish-red flowers. Check out the picture below to see our blossoms. Its an easy plant to grow indoors or out.

Also known as Jupiter’s Eye (or Beard), Thor’s Beard, Bullock’s Eye, and, more commonly, Houseleek, it has been a favorite herb since ancient times. Hens and chicks are members of the Sempervivum group of succulent plants. The literal translation for the name is Always Green on the Roof and refers to the plants hardy nature and the fact that they were often planted on roofs in England, Wales, France, and much of Europe. The Romans grew Sempervivum in vases at the entrance to homes for prosperity and to show esteem to Jupiter. Planting the herb on their roofs reputedly warded off lightning and fire, events all associated with Jupiter. They are also reputed to protect from witches.

Hens and chicks have medicinal properties similar to those of aloe vera, although in weaker concentration, and the juice is harder to extract. Freshly pressed leaves and their juice have been used externally to soothe skin conditions, including burns, wounds, ulcers, insect bites, inflammations, hemorrhoids, eczema, and fungal infections, as well as itchy and burning parts of the skin. Folklore also says they will remove warts and corns.

 

Content provided with permission by Sylvia Colles. If youd like to volunteer to help in the Herb Garden, download the volunteer form at http://woldumar.org/get-involved/volunteer/or just join us on one of the general workdays. Questions for Sylvia (about the garden) may be relayed by contacting director@woldumar.org; emails can be readily forwarded to her.
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