Far Out Flora

I’m a Dudleya Dork


I freaked out after spotting this Dudleya during a beach hike.  I mean we see succulents everyday in the garden setting, but to see CA native Dudleya growing amongst the other wildflowers is pretty cool.

Dudleya on the bluffs at Ft. Funston

Dudleya on the bluffs at Ft. Funston

These succulents were growing about 3 miles south of our apartment near the beach in a sand dune / sea cliff type area.  Above is the first one we saw.  The flowers on it were already spent.  If it is the Dudleya species I think it is…it would have had yellow inflorescence.

Dudleya sp. nestled in the sand.

Dudleya sp. nestled in the sand.

Now the challenge of trying to ID this guy.  Well, we are not Dudleya experts, and did some research.  I feel that it is probably Dudleya farinosa with a slight chance it is Dudleya caespitosa…both are California natives that grow along the coast in sandy and cliff like areas.  Cactus Blog has great pics of both.   Also, they look about the same as the ones we saw growing wild down in Big Sur off Hwy 1.

Another crop of Dudleya sp

Another crop of Dudleya sp

Here is another outcrop.  You can see two of them just right of center with a red ting to their leaves.

Detail of the outcrop.

Detail of the outcrop.

The common names include Bluff Lettuce, Live Forever, Sea Lettuce, and Powdery Dudleya.  Bluff Lettuce looks to be the right name for this plant.

Overview of the area.

Here is the place we were hiking...it is yards away from the ocean and close to home.

So what is all the fuss about these finding Dudleya growing here?  Well, you only have to go a mile north or south before you come across huge spans of Carpobrotus edulis, an invasive Ice Plant that is vigorous, spreads fast, and smothers what ever gets in its way. CAL-IPC does a great job explaining the history this Ice Plant which had been used for erosion control along the California coast from 1900s-1970.

Dudleya sp.

Dudleya sp.

Great news is that a lot of acres along the coasthas been restored, including this place…so I think these guys will be around for years to come.

— Far Out Flora


  1. I’ve never seen one, and it’s beauttiful.

  2. Very cool indeed to come across one. I think I must have seen one out and about at some point, but usually I just see them in gardens. And cool to hear there are stretches of non-ice plant coastal bluffs.

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  7. I’m so thrilled to read this post! I was given this plant as a gift from a friend who plucked it on a trip to Point Reyes. Now I know the story! Thank you, so much!

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  9. You might enjoy a visit to Salt Point State Park. It is north of Jenner and south of Point Arena along HWY 1. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, a very dramatic coastline with lots of interesting rock formations and such.

    I mention it because these dudleyas are EVERYWHERE there. If you go on a hike along the coastal trail you’ll see huge clusters of them clinging to the sides of the cliffs. Go in July (when I do) and most of them will be flowering. There seems to be two varieties that live there. A darker green kind and a minty turquoise kind. Both with lots of bright red leaf tips and neon yellow flowers.

  10. My wife and I just returned from the Sonoma coast. I must agree with Dan about Salt Point State Park. It is truly a beautiful place with stunning scenery. It also boasts the best tidepools I’ve ever seen at Gerstle Cove. Further up Hwy 1 at Sea Ranch, my wife plucked a beautiful little succulent that I now know the name of thanks to your web page. Thanks!

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