Hens and Chicks

By: Hannah Barrett
Plant Sciences 211L, 2011NDSU


Origins of Hens and Chicks

Name Meaning

The Latin name for hens and chicks is Sempervivum tectorum.  The Latin word Sempervivum means always living or in other words an evergreen plant and the Latin word tectorum means on roofs.  The translation then means always living on roofs.  You may be wondering how this has anything to do with hens and chicks, but in Europe hens and chicks were originally planted on roofs to help reduce fire by lightning on thatch roofed houses.  Since hens and chicks are succulents this would explain why hens and chicks are able to slow down fires by the excess water that they store inside of them. 


Hens and chicks have some distinctive characteristics.  One of these is the fact that hens and chicks are called rosettes.  The larger rosettes are called the hens while the smaller rosettes are called the chicks.  The colors of hens and chicks can be anywhere from green to red or a mixture of the colors.  As the chicks become larger they produce more chicks as their offspring thus creating the mental image of a mother hen with her chicks.  Hens and chicks are usually grown for their foliage that spreads between 1-2 inches in width, but they do flower once.  After a hen has flowered she will die, but she has usually produced many smaller chicks that are ready to take her place. 

flowering hens and chicks green hens and chicks purple hen and chick
These are some flowering hens and chicks that will die after they have finished blooming. This is an example of some hens and chicks that are multiplying from the central hen. This hen and chick shows one possible color variety that hens and chicks have.