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Chiastophyllum oppositifolium

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Crassulaceae (Stonecrop)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Gardens, meadows, mountains, rocky places, walls.

Yellow, 5 petals
Lamb's Tail produces small, star-shaped yellow flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer. These flowers are borne on tall stalks and add a vibrant splash of color to the rocky landscapes where the plant is often found. The flowers have a delicate and intricate structure, with petals radiating from a central point. While individually modest in size, the collective bloom creates a visually appealing display against the backdrop of the succulent's fleshy, opposite leaves. This flowering period contributes to the plant's overall charm in the natural habitats it inhabits, particularly in the mountainous regions of the UK.
Lamb's Tail typically produces small, inconspicuous fruits. These fruits may be capsule-like structures that contain seeds. The appearance of the fruit is relatively modest and often not as ornamental as the plant's flowers. The capsules may eventually split open to release the seeds, contributing to the plant's reproductive cycle. While the primary visual appeal of Lamb's Tail lies in its succulent leaves and vibrant yellow flowers, the presence of these small fruits is an integral part of its life cycle and ecological role in its rocky and mountainous habitats in the UK.
Lamb's Tail is characterized by its fleshy, opposite leaves. These leaves are spoon-shaped and form dense rosettes, creating a visually appealing arrangement. The succulent nature of the leaves allows the plant to store water, enhancing its ability to withstand periods of drought in its natural rocky habitats. The leaves are often green and have a glossy texture, contributing to the plant's overall aesthetic appeal. The opposite arrangement of the leaves along the stem adds a symmetrical and organized pattern to the plant's foliage. Lamb's Tail's leaves play a crucial role in its adaptation to challenging environmental conditions and contribute to its distinctive appearance in the UK landscape.
Lamb's Tail is not known for having a distinctive fragrance. The primary appeal of this plant lies in its succulent leaves, vibrant flowers, and adaptability to rocky environments, rather than any notable scent. The focus is typically on its visual characteristics, and it is not cultivated or appreciated for its fragrance in the same way some other flowering plants might be.
Other Names:
Gold Drop, Opposite-leaved Saxifrage.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Chiastophyllum oppositifolium also known as opposite-leaved saxifrage is a hardy perennial plant in the saxifrage family. It is native to the Alps and the Pyrenees. It is known for its small, rosettes of bright green leaves, which are arranged in opposite pairs, and for its clusters of small, white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer. It prefers to grow in a rocky or gravelly soil and thrives in a sunny spot. It is a good option for rock gardens, alpine gardens and front of the border. It is not commonly used as a garden plant but can be grown as a curiosity.


Lamb's-tail, scientifically known as Chiastophyllum oppositifolium, is a beautiful and unique perennial plant native to the alpine regions of Europe and Asia. Its common name comes from the fluffy, lamb-like tails that develop on the ends of its flower stalks.


Lamb's-tail is a low-growing plant that typically grows to about 6-8 inches in height and spreads out to form dense clumps up to 12 inches wide. The leaves are thick and succulent, arranged in opposite pairs along the stems. The leaves are green, sometimes with a reddish tinge, and have a slight glossiness to them. The flowers are small and yellow, appearing in clusters at the ends of short stalks. After flowering, the flower stalks develop the characteristic fluffy, white tails that give the plant its common name.

Growing Conditions

Lamb's-tail is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter and slightly acidic to neutral pH. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade, although it may require some protection from hot afternoon sun in warmer climates. Lamb's-tail is also drought tolerant, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping or dry rock gardens.


Lamb's-tail can be propagated by division or by taking stem cuttings. Division is best done in spring or early fall when the plant is actively growing. To propagate by division, dig up the clump and gently separate it into smaller sections, each with some roots attached. Replant the smaller sections in well-prepared soil and water thoroughly. Stem cuttings can be taken in summer, and the cuttings can be rooted in a potting mix or directly in the garden soil.


Lamb's-tail is an excellent choice for rock gardens, alpine gardens, and other types of low-maintenance landscapes. Its succulent leaves and drought tolerance make it an excellent choice for xeriscaping, and it can be grown in containers as well. The plant's unique appearance and fluffy flower stalks make it a standout in any garden, adding texture and interest.

More Information

Lamb's-tail is also known for its medicinal properties. In traditional medicine, it has been used to treat a variety of ailments such as cuts, wounds, and burns. The plant contains tannins, which have astringent properties that help to tighten and soothe the skin. The leaves and stems can be mashed and applied topically to the affected area to promote healing.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Lamb's-tail has also been used for culinary purposes. The leaves have a slightly tart, lemony flavor that makes them an excellent addition to salads and other dishes. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and used fresh or dried for later use.

In addition to its use in gardens and landscapes, Lamb's-tail is also a valuable plant in terms of conservation. In its native range, the plant is endangered due to habitat loss and over-collection. However, Lamb's-tail has been successfully grown and propagated in botanical gardens and other institutions around the world. These efforts have helped to conserve the plant and its genetic diversity, ensuring that it will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Another interesting fact about Lamb's-tail is that it is a member of the Crassulaceae family, which also includes other succulent plants such as jade plants and stonecrops. Like other succulents, Lamb's-tail has adapted to dry environments by storing water in its leaves and stems. This adaptation allows it to survive in harsh alpine environments where water is scarce.

In terms of care, Lamb's-tail is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and can withstand frost and snow. However, in areas with hot summers, it may benefit from some shade during the hottest parts of the day. Lamb's-tail does not require fertilization, and in fact, too much fertilizer can cause the plant to become leggy and prone to disease.

In summary, Lamb's-tail is a fascinating and beautiful plant with many uses and benefits. From its unique appearance to its medicinal and culinary properties, it is a valuable addition to any garden or landscape. And with its adaptability and conservation status, Lamb's-tail is a reminder of the importance of preserving our natural world and its biodiversity.

30 Facts about Lamb's Tail

  1. Botanical Name: Chiastophyllum oppositifolium, commonly known as Lamb's Tail.
  2. Family: Crassulaceae.
  3. Habitat: Lamb's Tail is native to rocky mountainous regions, and it is often found in alpine and subalpine areas.
  4. Geographical Distribution: It can be found in various parts of Europe, including the Alps and the Carpathians.
  5. Appearance: Lamb's Tail is a low-growing perennial plant with fleshy, opposite leaves.
  6. Leaf Characteristics: The leaves are spoon-shaped, succulent, and typically form dense rosettes.
  7. Flowering Period: It produces small, star-shaped yellow flowers on tall stalks in late spring to early summer.
  8. Height: The plant usually reaches a height of 10-15 centimeters.
  9. Adaptability: Lamb's Tail is adapted to harsh environmental conditions, including rocky and nutrient-poor soils.
  10. Hardiness: It is known for its ability to withstand cold temperatures, making it suitable for alpine environments.
  11. Sunlight Requirements: Lamb's Tail prefers full sun to partial shade.
  12. Drought Tolerance: This plant is drought-tolerant, and its succulent leaves help it conserve water.
  13. Soil Preference: Well-draining soil is essential for Lamb's Tail, as it is susceptible to root rot in overly wet conditions.
  14. Propagation: It can be propagated from seeds or by dividing the rosettes.
  15. Low Maintenance: Lamb's Tail is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care once established.
  16. Edibility: While not commonly consumed, some succulent plants, including certain types of Crassulaceae, may have culinary uses in some cultures.
  17. Wildlife Attraction: The flowers may attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  18. Rock Garden Plant: Due to its low-growing and hardy nature, Lamb's Tail is often used in rock gardens.
  19. Ground Cover: It can function as an attractive ground cover in suitable climates.
  20. Medicinal Uses: Some succulents, including certain Crassulaceae species, have traditional medicinal uses, but specific uses for Lamb's Tail may vary.
  21. Symbolism: Succulents, in general, can symbolize endurance, tenacity, and adaptability.
  22. Cultural Significance: Lamb's Tail may have cultural significance in regions where it is native, with potential uses in traditional medicine or folklore.
  23. Growth Rate: It has a slow to moderate growth rate.
  24. Pest Resistance: Succulents, including Lamb's Tail, are often resistant to many common pests.
  25. Indoor Cultivation: In some regions, Lamb's Tail can be grown indoors in containers as a houseplant.
  26. Winter Dormancy: It may go through a period of winter dormancy in colder climates.
  27. Conservation Status: The conservation status of Lamb's Tail may vary depending on local populations and environmental conditions.
  28. Cultural Names: The plant may have different common names in various regions.
  29. Landscape Uses: Lamb's Tail can be used in landscaping for its aesthetic appeal and low-maintenance qualities.
  30. Climate Requirements: It thrives in cool to temperate climates and may not do well in hot and humid conditions.


Lamb's Tail filmed at Rydal Water in Cumbria on the 17th June 2023.


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