Autumn Joy Sedum

October 5, 2021

No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace,
As I have seen in one autumnal face.
-John Donne

Expected autumnal beauty is usually delivered with striking leaf colors as with our tupelo, Franklin tree, fothergilla, Virginia sweetspire, and of course maples to cite just a few. Herein however we sing our praise for a late-bloomer with reliable deep-red or raspberry flowers amongst the surrounding cornucopia of fall foliage.

Autumn Joy Sedum, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a lovely, award-winning (Royal Horticultural Society) herbaceous perennial. This is a hybrid originated in Germany between Sedum spectabile and Sedum telephium, which had the original name of ‘Herbstfreude’.

Its inflorescence is a flat-topped cyme, 6-inch-wide or wider composed of numerous five-petaled, tiny florets. These florets earlier in summer were bumpy clusters of pale green flower buds, transitioning to pale pink before opening to rich-pink flowers, eventually progressing to deep-red florets and as they finish blooming turning a copper-brown. These flowers are quite attractive to bees while there are fewer blossoming options available. Even after the first frost turns the flower heads a darker brown, the 18-30-inch-high plants remain eye-catching.

Sedum is a large genus with 500-600 species within the CRASSULACEAE, the stonecrop family, many having succulent stems and or leaves. Its etymology dates back to Linnaeus (1707-1778) with sedo from Latin meaning, to sit, as a plant that grows on a rock, wall or roof. Autumn Joy Sedum has gray-green, fleshy stems and leaves. The alternate or subopposite leaves, one-to four-inches long, emerge in the spring and remain beautiful throughout the summer and fall.

On a future visit to Mount Auburn look for Autumn Joy Sedum at the Asa Gray garden, flagpole, Flicker Path, Lavender Path and Azalea Path.

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone…
– Percy Shelley


About the Author: Jim Gorman

Visitor Services Assistant View all posts by Jim Gorman →


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