Elf Orpine (Diamorpha smallii) and its cousin Puck’s Orpine (Granite Stonecrop, Dwarf Stonecrop Sedum pusillum) are succulents that grow on stone outcrops in the Southeastern United States. Elf Orpine stems and leaves are uniformly red. It’s easy to spot patches of them at a distance on stone outcrops in this area. In contrast, stems and leaves of Puck’s Orpine are usually green; some red coloration may be present if they grow in the sun but this is not uniform as it is in Elf Orpine.
Elf Orpine seems to grow on bare ground. It will grow sparsely and in almost ‘pure culture’ in very shallow sand or soil. The patches will appear deep red at a distance until they bloom at which point the patches appear pink rather than red. Occasionally a few Onefllower Stitchwort (Minuartia uniflora) plants will grow in these patches.
These plants were photographed on the Bradley Mountain Trail at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Patches of Elf Orpine growing in then layers of sand on top of Bradley Mountain in the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve in DeKalb County, Georgia. In addition to growing in these thin layers of sand or soil, plants will thrive on the margins of deeper dish gardens. See other photos of dish gardens here, here, and here.
A closer view of plants growing in patches.
Plants also grow in cracks in the rocks where sand and soil have accumulated.
A closer view of plants growing in cracks in the rocks
A plant just getting started in a crack in the rock.
I almost missed these plants just getting a start in a patch of Grimmia sp. moss. There are at least four plants in this patch of moss.
A closer view. This plant has just a few leaves
A close up of buds.
Individual plants in bloom
Close ups of individual flowers.
Diamorpha smallii (Elf Orpine) is native to the southeastern states – Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. In contrast, Sedum pusillum (Puck's Orpine) is found only in North and South Carolina and Georgia.
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- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Diamorpha smallii (Elf Orpine)
Compare with Sedum pusillum (Granite Stonecrop)
- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Diamorpha smallii
Compare with Sedum pusillum
- Southeastern Flora: Elf Orpine (Diamorpha smallii)
- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Elf Orpine (Diamorpha smallii)
Compare with Puck's Orpine, Granite Stonecrop (Sedum pusillum)
- US Army Corps of Engineers: Threatened and Endangered Species of the Upper Savannah River Basin (Granite Stonecrop or Dwarf Stonecrop - Sedum pusillum)
- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index
- Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve: Bradley Mountain Trail (Part 1)
- Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve: Bradley Mountain Trail (Part 2)
- Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve: Bradley Mountain Trail (Part 3)