Crassulaceae J.St.-Hil.

First published in Expos. Fam. Nat. 2: 123. 1805 [Feb-Apr 1805] (as "Crassuleae") (1805)
This family is accepted

Descriptions

Gemma Bramley, Anna Trias-Blasi & Richard Wilford (2023). The Kew Temperate Plant Families Identification Handbook. Kew Publishing Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Recognition
Characters of similar families: Saxifragaceae: leaves may be leathery but rarely succulent, leaves usually in a basal rosette, ovary inferior or semi-inferior, carpels 2 or rarely 3, fruit a capsule. Aizoaceae: leaf blade flat, terete, or triquetrous (3-angled), occasionally scale-like. Petals linear or absent, 0–250(–300). Stamens 1–500(–700), fruits usually capsules, sometimes indehiscent berries or nut-like.
Morphology General Habit
Succulent perennial herbs, rarely annuals or biennials, some shrubs
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules absent
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite or alternate, rarely verticillate, sometimes in a basal rosette, simple (compound in Kalanchoe), margins usually entire sometimes toothed or lobed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence terminal or axillary, usually cymous, sometimes a raceme or spike, occasionally flowers solitary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers bisexual (sometimes unisexual in Rhodiola), actinomorphic, perianth and androecium hypogynous or weakly perigynous, nectaries as scales at base of carpels
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx (3–)4–5(–20) sepals, free or united into tube, entire
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals same number as sepals, free or united into tube
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens as many or twice as many as petals, free or fused with corolla tube; anthers basifixed and dehiscing longitudinally
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Carpels
Carpels superior or partly inferior, free or united at base, as many as petals
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit usually whorls of follicles, membranous or coriaceous; seeds 1–20+ per carpel, small, brownish.
Distribution
36 genera (29 in temperate regions) and ca. 1,400 species, although there are only 7 genera if Sedum is expanded to include all of the genera in subfamily Sempervivoideae. Widely distributed across the northern and southern hemispheres.
Note
Succulent perennials or shrubs, rarely annuals or biennials. Inflorescence terminal or axillary, with actinomorphic flowers. Sepals and petals of equal number. Carpels as many as petals. Small seeds held in follicles.
Description Author
Richard Wilford
[KTEMP-FIH]

George R. Proctor (2012). Flora of the Cayman Isands (Second Edition). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Morphology General Habit
Succulent annual or perennial herbs, sometimes suffrutescent; leaves opposite, simple or sometimes compound, usually very thick; stipules absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers regular, perfect, usually in cymes or panicles; sepals 4 or 5, united below; corolla 4–5-lobed, the lobes spreading. Stamens as many as or twice as many as the corolla-lobes, the anthers dehiscent by longitudinal slits
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary superior, with as many carpels as sepals, distinct or partly united, with a scale at the base of each; ovules numerous, in 2 series along the ventral suture of the carpel
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit consisting of 4 or 5 1-celled follicles containing numerous small or minute seeds; seeds with fleshy endosperm; embryo terete, with short, obtuse cotyledons.
Distribution
A widespread family of at least 33 genera and more than 1,000 species, in this hemisphere best represented in Mexico.
[Cayman]

Crassulaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:1. 1954

Morphology General Habit
Herbs and undershrubs, usually succulent; leaves opposite or alternate, exstipulate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, usually cymose
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals free or united into a tube, often 4 or 5
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals the same number as the sepals, free or variously connate, hypogynous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens as many or twice as many as the petals, if few then alternate with the petals, slightly perigynous; filaments free; anthers 2-celled, introrse, dehiscing longitudinally
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Nectaries
Hypogynous scales present within the stamens
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Carpels superior, the same number as the petals free or united at the base, 1-celled; ovules many or rarely few, inserted on the adaxial suture; styles short or elongated
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit follicular, membranous or leathery, often surrounded by the persistent membranous corolla, opening on the adaxial side
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds mostly minute, usually with fleshy endosperm; embryo straight
Distribution
Widely distributed in temperate and tropical regions, especially in mountainous districts, rare in South America and Australasia
[FWTA]

Hind, D.J.N. (2009). Neotropical Crassulaceae.

Morphology
Description

Perennial herbs, rarely annual or biennial , rarely small shrubs, usually stem and/or leaf succulents. Leaves opposite or alternate , rarely verticillate , exstipulate , usually simple , usually glabrous , often glaucous , rarely with glands in leaf surface, sometimes pubescent , hairs either unicellular or multicellular and glandular - capitate or eglandular, margins usually entire , sometimes serrate , crenate or dentate , rarely coarsely lobed . Flowers usually in terminal cymose inflorescences, less often in spikes or racemes or solitary in leaf-axils, with or without bracts, regular, hermaphrodite , rarely unisexual and dioecious , mostly (3-)4-5 (-± 30)- merous ; sepals 4-5 (-6), free or united into tube, persistent ; petals same number as sepals, free or variously connate ; stamens hypogynous or epipetalous, as many as petals or twice as many, in one whorl (Crassula-lineage) or more usually two whorls (Sedum-lineage), frequently obdiplostemenous, with outer whorl alternate and free from petals and inner whorl adnate to petals; filaments free or adnate to petals; anthers dorsifixed, bithecous, introrse, opening by a longitudinal slit; nectaries scale-like and usually present between the stamens and carpels. Carpels superior , equal in number to petals, free or slightly connate at base, unilocular; ovules (few-) many, inserted on adaxial suture, submarginal or proximally axile ; styles short or elongated, stigmatic surface on inner side of apex . Fruit usually of separate follicles, rarely a capsule , follicles membranous or leathery, often surrounded by persistent membranous corolla , opening on adaxial side. Seed minute, glabrous , testa variously striate and sometimes ornamented with ridges or papillae; endosperm usually present and sparse; embryo straight.

Distribution
Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Largest genus is Sedum L. with about 500 species in total.
  • Echeveria DC. is the largest in the Western hemisphere with c. 150 species.
  • Sedum follows Echeveria with c. 110 spp. in the Neotropics.
  • Crassula L. has c. 11 spp. in the Neotropics.
  • Villadia Rose contains c. 10 in Peru.
General Description
Number of genera
  • There are four native genera (Sedum, Echeveria, Crassula and Villadia) and one cultivated (Kalanchoe).
General notes
  • Main areas of speciation include Africa (dry areas), Madagascar, Macaronesia and Mexico.
  • Up to six subfamilies are recognized but following DNA analysis only two main lineages are seen clearly - the Crassula-lineage and the Sedum-lineage.
  • Mostly plants of dry, rocky habitats, usually terrestrial but rarely epiphytic and very rarely aquatic.
Diagnostic
Useful tips for generic identification
  • Crassula spp. are usually prostrate or aquatic herbs, typically with isostemonous flowers.
  • Echeveria spp. have obovatefleshy leaves, usually arranged in a rosette, and lateral racemose inflorescences
  • Sedum spp. have paniculate cymes; both genera have free or basally connate petals.
  • There are several species of Kalanchoe that are cultivated, some naturalized; they are best recognized by flowers with (4) fused petals forming a tube, and many species have lobed, crenate or serrate margined leaves. A number of species of Kalanchoe , formally in the genus Bryophyllum , have plantlets on the leaf margins.
Literature
Important literature

Bywater, M. & G. E .Wickens. (1984). New World species of the genus Crassula. Kew Bull. 39(4): 699-728.

Claussen, R. T. (1959). Sedum of North America north of the Mexican Plateau. An exposition of taxonomic methods. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, New York. pp. 380.

Freire Fierro, A. (2004). Crassulaceae. In: G. Harling & L. Andersson (eds), Flora of Ecuador 73: 3-16. Botanical Institute, Göteborg University.

Fröderström, H. (1936). The genus Sedum L. : a systematic essay. Part. IV. Acta Horti Gotoburgensis. 10, Appendix. 1-181 + pl. I-CXV.

Pilbeam, J. (2008). The genus Echeveria. The British Cactus & Succulent Society, Hornchurch. 333 pp.

Walther, E. (1972). Echeveria. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. pp. 426.

[NTK]

Crassulaceae, G.E. Wickens. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1987

Morphology General Habit
Annual, biennial or perennial herbs, rarely small shrubs, usually succulent
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite or alternate, rarely verticillate, exstipulate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers usually in terminal cymose inflorescences, less often in spikes or racemes or solitary in the leaf-axils, with or without bracts, regular, hermaphrodite, rarely unisexual and dioecious, mostly (3–)4–5(–±30)-merous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals free or united into a tube, persistent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals the same number as the sepals, free or variously connate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens hypogynous or epipetalous, as many as the petals or twice as many, and in 2 whorls, frequently obdiplostemonous; filaments free or adnate to the petals; anthers 2-thecous, introrse, opening by a longitudinal slit; scale-like nectaries usually present between the stamens and carpels
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Carpels superior, equal in number to the petals, free or slightly connate at the base, 1-locular; ovules (few–)many, inserted on the adaxial suture; style short or elongated, stigmatose on the inner side of the apex
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit follicular, membranous or leathery, often surrounded by the persistent membranous corolla, opening on the adaxial side
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds minute; endosperm usually present; embryo straight
[FTEA]

Crassulaceae, R. Fernandes. Flora Zambesiaca 7:1. 1983

Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite, verticillate or alternate, usually simple, sometimes compound, exstipulate, often ± thick and fleshy-succulent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers (3)4-5(6-32)-merous, actinomorphic, usually bisexual, in axillary or terminal cymes often grouped in corymb- or panicle-like inflorescences, less often in racemes or spikes or solitary in the leaf-axil
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals free or ±: united at the base, sometimes in a ± long tube
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals as many as the sepals, free or ± connate, hypogynous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens as many or twice as many as the petals; filaments free or more or less connate with the corolla-tube; anthers 2-celled, introrse, basifixed, dehiscing longitudinally
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Ovary superior; carpels equal in number to the petals, free or united (up to the middle); ovules many or few to one in each carpel, anatropous, inserted on the adaxial suture; styles short, sometimes nearly absent or ± elongate; stigmas capitate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit follicular, membranous or leathery, opening along the free part of the adaxial suture
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds mostly minute with smooth, rugose or tuberculate tegument and usually fleshy endosperm; embryo straight
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Nectaries
Hypogynous scales (scale-like nectaries) usually present, small, applied to the base of the outer face of the carpels
[FZ]

Uses

Use
Some genera have medicinal uses and several, including Sedum and Sempervivum, are grown as ornamentals.
[KTEMP-FIH]

Sources

  • Flora Zambesiaca

    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of the Cayman Islands

    • Flora of the Cayman Islands
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Neotropikey

    • Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • The Kew Temperate Plant Families Identification Handbook

    • The Kew Temperate Plant Families Identification Handbook
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0