by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP
Common Names: Houseleek, Stonecrop Houseleek, Wallpepper, Kidneywort and Water Houseleek, Thor’s Beard, Aaron’s Rod
Origin: Native of Central & Southern Europe, Greek Islands and Africa
History: A common site in Central and Southern Europe covering the roofs of local Cottages. It was believed to ward off sorcery, storms, lightening and fire! In Sweden it was used to preserve thatched roofs.
Art of Placement Tips:
Fondly called Hens and Chicks in North America, due to their pattern of spreading. Starting with one plant it sends out shoots quickly creating a circle of them. For this reason the placement of this plant in Western Feng Shui gardening is in the Helpful People corner of the Baqua! The circular pattern reflects the element of metal which also supports this area of the Baqua.
Two Hen’s and Chicks circle arrangement are used for protection and luck at one’s front door! The herbaceous leaves symbolizes water in Feng Shui which translates to luck and wealth.
Folklore suggested that having this plant at the door would increase the sexual prowess of husbands returning home from the fields at the end of the day!
Hens and Chicks are hardy and easy to grow. They usually have one large root topped with a rosette of leaves that are robust and fleshy. The leaves are filled with water enabling the plant to withstand drought like conditions.
These plants enjoy full sun and well draining soil conditions. They are great for rock walls and fences! They can be grown indoors.
When the plant reaches 3 to 5 years it will grow a tall central stem of unique flowers. As the flower dies so will the original plant, which will have re-seeded itself.
The leaves of the Sempervivum tectorum are edible and commonly used as an Aloe Vera replacement. Crunchy like a cucumber and similar in taste. It can be juiced, added to smoothies and made into a tea.
Beneficial Uses of the Leaves
- Skin Re-freshener & Lightener
I have put the leaves in the blender to chop them and then placed the chunky juice on my face as a re-freshener and to lighten age spots!
I have used the leaves for nosebleeds by breaking it and holding it to my nostril to smell. The nosebleed will usually stop immediately. if not, it reduces the blood flow where I usually put a small piece of leave in my nostril until it comes to a complete stop.
The leaves are fleshy like Aloe Vera and have a saline, astringent and acid taste. In large doses the juice is emetic and purgative.
The juice is used in the treatment of ulcers, inflammation, burns and scalds, skin conditions, earache, corns and wart. It improves sleep, immunity, headaches, asthma, gout, heart disease, the circulatory system and increases blood pressure. It can be used for common flu conditions.
Freshly crushed leaves or pure juice can be put on wounds, ulcers, sores, blisters and sun spots. Freshly picked leaves prepared as tea can be used for Herpes Zoster, malignant skin conditions, inflammation of the gums and throat, chapped skin, hemorrhoids and worms.
Culpepper informs us that:
- ‘Our ordinary Houseleek is good for all inward heats, as well as outward, and in the eyes or other parts of the body: a posset made of the juice is singularly good in all hot agues, for it cooleth and tempereth the blood and spirits and quencheth the thirst; and is also good to stay all defluction or sharp and salt rheums in the eyes, the juice being dropped into them. If the juice be dropped into the ears, it easeth pain…. It cooleth and restraineth all hot inflammations St. Anthony’s fire (Erysipelas), scaldings and burnings, the shingles, fretting ulcers, ringworms and the like; and much easeth the pain and the gout.’
- After describing the use of the leaves in the cure of corns, he goes on to say:
- ‘it easeth also the headache, and the distempered heat of the brain in frenzies, or through want of sleep, being applied to the temples and forehead. The leaves bruised and laid upon the crown or seam of the head, stayeth bleeding at the nose very quickly. The distilled water of the herb is profitable for all the purposes aforesaid. The leaves being gently rubbed on any place stung with nettles or bees, doth quickly take away the pain.’
Traditional uses and properties of herbs are for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Every attempt has been made for accuracy, but none is guaranteed. Any serious health concerns or if you are pregnant, you should always check with your health care practitioner before self-administering herbs.