Crassulaceae: Stonecrop Family — Dudleya
The Stonecrop family members are mostly succulents, with basal rosettes of fleshy leaves. Dudleya have numerous cylindrical flowers, ranging from bright yellow to deep orange-red. Other genera, such as Sedum (Stonecrop) and certain Crassula, have star-shaped flowers. Some plants in this family have an unusual photosynthesis variation, called CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism). These plants conserve water by keeping their pores closed during the day, and opening them at night.
Dudleyas are an attractive genus, except when trying to identify them. Although some have clearly distinguishing characteristics, all of them hybridize readily. Intergrades of at least four of the species found in Monterey are common. In some species, the caudex (the woody, persistent base of the plant) is visible beneath the leaves, and its size can be an important element in identifying the plant. The height of the flower stem can be another important indicator.