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Umbilicus rupestris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Crassulaceae (Stonecrop)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, hedgerows, rocky places, walls, woodland.

White, 1 petal
Navelwort, scientifically known as Umbilicus rupestris, boasts small, succulent-like leaves that cluster in rosettes at the stem tips, giving it a distinctive appearance resembling an umbilicus or belly button, hence its name. Its delicate, bell-shaped flowers bloom in shades of pale pink to white, dangling from slender, arching stems that emerge from the center of the rosettes. These blooms attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, adding a subtle charm to rocky habitats and shaded woodland areas where Navelwort thrives.
The fruit of Navelwort develops after flowering and consists of small, round capsules that contain several seeds. These capsules typically hang downward from the stems and eventually split open when mature, releasing the seeds inside. The seeds are small and often dispersed by wind or other natural means, contributing to the plant's propagation in its native habitats, which include rocky slopes, cliffsides, and woodland edges.
The leaves of Navelwort are its most distinctive feature, forming dense rosettes at the tips of its stems. These leaves are succulent and fleshy, often bluish-green in color, with a smooth texture. Each leaf is roughly heart-shaped with a pointed tip and a slightly wavy margin. They grow in overlapping layers, giving the plant a compact and attractive appearance. The leaves store water, allowing the plant to withstand periods of drought, typical of its natural rocky and dry habitats.
Navelwort does not have a notable fragrance. Unlike some flowering plants that attract pollinators with scent, Navelwort relies primarily on its visual appeal and possibly nectar to attract insects. Its focus is more on its succulent leaves and delicate flowers rather than producing a distinctive aroma. This characteristic is typical of many plants that grow in rocky habitats or woodland edges where Navelwort thrives.
Other Names:
Corn Leaves, Dollar Weed, Hipwort, Kidney Wort, Lady's Navel, Penny-pies, Pennywort, Venus's Navelwort, Wall Pennyleaf, Wall Pennyroyal, Wall Pennywort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Umbilicus rupestris, also known as navelwort or pennywort, is a species of flowering plant in the family Crassulaceae. It is a small perennial herb, typically found growing in rocky, dry or sunny places, such as walls, rocks and cliffs. It has fleshy, succulent leaves and small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant has a distinctive umbilicate shape, which is where it gets its common name "navelwort". The leaves are edible and are sometimes used in salads, as a garnish, or as a vegetable. The plant has also been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, such as skin conditions and wounds.


Navelwort, also known as Umbilicus rupestris, is a perennial plant that belongs to the Crassulaceae family. It is native to Europe and North Africa, but it can also be found in parts of North America and Asia. Navelwort is a fascinating plant with a unique appearance and a variety of uses in traditional medicine and cuisine.

Appearance and Characteristics

Navelwort is a small succulent plant that typically grows to a height of 10-20 cm. It has fleshy, round leaves that grow in a rosette pattern, with a diameter of 2-6 cm. The leaves are bright green in color and have a smooth texture, with a slight waxy coating that helps the plant retain moisture. The leaves are also slightly curved, giving the plant its distinctive navel-like appearance.

Navelwort blooms from late spring to early summer, producing small, star-shaped flowers that range in color from white to pink. The flowers grow on thin stems that rise above the leaves, and they attract bees and other pollinators.

Habitat and Distribution

Navelwort is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of habitats, including rocky outcrops, cliffs, walls, and crevices. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but it can also tolerate some shade. Navelwort is common throughout Europe and North Africa, where it is often found growing in rocky coastal regions. It has also been introduced to parts of North America and Asia, where it is cultivated as an ornamental plant.

Traditional Uses

Navelwort has a long history of use in traditional medicine and cuisine. In ancient Greece, it was used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and wounds. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to treat inflammation, fever, and digestive disorders.

Navelwort has also been used as a food source throughout history. In some parts of Europe, the leaves are boiled or sautéed and used as a vegetable, or added to salads for their tangy flavor. The leaves have a slightly sour taste, similar to sorrel or lemon, which makes them a popular ingredient in traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.

Modern Uses

Today, Navelwort is still used in traditional medicine and is being studied for its potential therapeutic properties. It has been found to contain several bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, and tannins, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

Navelwort is also used in cosmetics and skincare products for its moisturizing and soothing properties. Its high concentration of polysaccharides makes it effective in retaining moisture and improving skin elasticity.

Navelwort is a unique and versatile plant with a fascinating history and a variety of uses. Whether used as a traditional medicine, a culinary ingredient, or a skincare product, it is a plant worth exploring and appreciating for its many benefits.

Additional Information

Navelwort's health benefits have been studied extensively in recent years. Research has shown that it has antioxidant properties, which means it can help to protect the body against cellular damage caused by free radicals. This may be beneficial in preventing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

In addition to its antioxidant properties, Navelwort has anti-inflammatory properties, which may be useful in treating a variety of conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and eczema. It has also been found to have antimicrobial properties, which means it can help to fight off infections caused by bacteria and fungi.

Navelwort's unique appearance and interesting flavor have also made it a popular plant in the world of culinary arts. Its tangy, lemon-like taste makes it a popular ingredient in salads, soups, and stews. It can also be used as a garnish to add a pop of color and flavor to a dish.

Navelwort is also known for its adaptogenic properties, which means it can help the body to adapt to stress and promote overall well-being. This may be useful in reducing stress and anxiety, improving cognitive function, and boosting energy levels.

In traditional medicine, Navelwort has been used to treat a variety of digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, and dyspepsia. Its astringent properties make it effective in reducing inflammation and irritation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Navelwort is also used in folk medicine to treat respiratory issues such as coughs, colds, and bronchitis. Its expectorant properties help to loosen and expel mucus from the lungs, making it easier to breathe.

Navelwort is an easy plant to grow and maintain, making it a great choice for beginners or those who want a low-maintenance plant. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun but can also tolerate some shade. It is a drought-tolerant plant that does not require frequent watering.

Propagation of Navelwort can be done through stem cuttings or by dividing the plant's root system. The cuttings or divided plants can be planted in well-drained soil and will usually root within a few weeks.

Navelwort's unique appearance and small size make it an excellent choice for rock gardens, container gardens, and as a ground cover in dry, rocky areas. It is also a popular plant for vertical gardens or living walls.

Navelwort has also been used in traditional medicine to treat skin conditions such as wounds, burns, and rashes. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe and heal the skin, while its astringent properties help to tighten and tone the skin.

Navelwort can be used topically as a poultice, salve, or infused oil. To make a poultice, the leaves can be crushed and applied directly to the skin. To make a salve or infused oil, the leaves are usually steeped in a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil.

Navelwort has been found to be effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin elasticity, and reducing the appearance of age spots. Its high concentration of antioxidants makes it a valuable ingredient in natural skincare products.

In addition to its health and skincare benefits, Navelwort has also been used in traditional crafts such as basket weaving and dyeing. The plant's leaves and stems can be used to create beautiful natural dyes in shades of yellow, green, and brown.

Overall, Navelwort is a fascinating plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine, culinary arts, and crafts. Its unique appearance, health benefits, and versatility make it a valuable addition to any garden or herbal medicine cabinet.

Key Facts about Navelwort

Here are some key facts and a summary about Navelwort:

  • Navelwort, or Umbilicus rupestris, is a small, succulent plant that is native to Europe and parts of Asia.
  • It is also known as Wall Pennywort, Navel Pennywort, or Penny-Pies.
  • Navelwort has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions such as digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin ailments.
  • The plant has also been found to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, making it a valuable ingredient in natural skincare products and herbal remedies.
  • Navelwort is easy to grow and maintain, making it a popular choice for gardens and containers.
  • The plant's unique appearance, interesting flavor, and health benefits make it a valuable addition to traditional medicine, culinary arts, and crafts.

In summary, Navelwort is a small but versatile plant with a rich history and a variety of uses. Its health benefits, unique appearance, and ease of cultivation make it a valuable addition to any garden, herbal medicine cabinet, or natural skincare routine.

More Facts About the Navelwort

Here are some facts about Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris):

  1. Botanical Name: Umbilicus rupestris.
  2. Common Names: Navelwort, Pennywort.
  3. Appearance: Succulent, fleshy leaves in rosettes, often bluish-green.
  4. Flowers: Bell-shaped, pale pink to white, hanging from slender stems.
  5. Fruit: Small round capsules containing seeds, hanging downward.
  6. Habitat: Rocky slopes, cliffs, walls, hedgerows, and shaded woodlands.
  7. Edibility: Young leaves are edible, with a mild, cucumber-like flavor.
  8. Uses: Sometimes used in salads or as a garnish.
  9. Pollinators: Attracts bees and butterflies.
  10. Adaptations: Drought-resistant due to water-storing leaves.
  11. Distribution: Native to parts of Europe, including the UK.
  12. Cultural Significance: Historically used in herbal medicine for various ailments.


Navelwort filmed all around Mousehole in Cornwall on the 7th and 8th of June 2024.


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