Sedum villosum

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCrassulaceaeSedumSedum villosum


A small biennial or perennial herb which grows in at least slightly base-enriched, wet, stony ground and on streamsides in hilly areas, and in montane, often bryophyte-rich, flushes. From near sea level to 1100 m (Breadalbanes, Mid Perth), but mostly between 250 m and 500 m.



World Distribution

European Boreo-arctic Montane element; also in N. America.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Fen, marsh and swamp (not wooded)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 9

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 1.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 12.9

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1273

Height (cm): 10

Perennation - primary


Perennation - secondary

Biennial, including monocarpic perennials

Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 211

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -0.76

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Sedum villosum L.

Hairy stonecrop

Status: scarce


This species is found in stony bryophyte-dominated flushes that are only slightly base-rich, often on rather level ground beside streams amongst species-poor hill grassland or heather moorland. Most sites are in areas which receive 75-150 cm of rainfall per annum. The bryophytes Calliergon cuspidatum and Philonotis fontana are typical associates, often with Plagiomnium ellipticum, but Cratoneuron commutatum is infrequent. Higher plants in association are often dwarfed and sparse and are a variable mix of such species as Bellis perennis, Caltha palustris, Cardamine pratensis, Carex echinata, C. nigra, Juncus articulatus, Prunella vulgaris, Ranunculus acris and Trifolium repens. In some areas Galium uliginosum is a typical associate. In Cumbria and the Craven Pennines it occurs in stony flushes which are not dominated by bryophytes. In its montane sites in the western Highlands it is limited to gravel flushes on the Tertiary basalt of Mull and Morvern where associates include Juncus triglumis and Koenigia islandica. S. villosum is most frequent between 250 metres and 500 metres but occurs at over 1000 metres on Ben Lawers.

It is a perennial, or sometimes biennial, plant. The stem is branched at the base and spreads by producing offsets. Nevertheless, reproduction is probably mainly by seed.

S. villosum colonises a habitat that is, by its nature, scattered and scarce but despite this it remains very locally frequent, at least in the Southern Uplands. However, many of its more lowland sites have been lost to drainage and others to forestry. It may colonise shallow ditches or little-used stony tracks, occasionally in profusion. It is still likely to persist in many of the upland 10 km squares in which it has not been recorded recently. 

It is a species with a mainly northern distribution, occurring in Greenland, Iceland and Scandinavia, but extending south to the mountains of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.


M. E. Braithwaite

Atlas text references

Atlas (135b)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1999)
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.