Rhodiola integrifolia

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 14:41

Rhodiola integrifolia is a beautiful and perhaps somewhat underappreciated hardy succulent.
Here's the native range from the USDA Plants site (scroll down to see that of the subspecies):

The subspecies that occurs here is R. integrifolia ssp. integrifolia and it's common in habitat on alpine ridges and scree, both wet and dry.
1) I see plants with entire leaves most often in the areas where we hike.
2) Here's a little colony of toothed-leaved plants in the same area as above.
3) And a "rare" (according to Flora of Alberta) yellow-flowered form in the same area again.
4, 5) As part of little alpine gardens in the wild. (Wish I could pick these up and take them home!)
6) Showing brilliant colour after a frost.


Submitted by RickR on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 19:46

That fall color sure is striking!
Would it be safe to say that all Rhodiola spp. have pink/red/maroon fall color(not yellow)?

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 20:39

I haven't grown enough Rhodiola species to say much about it, but if I recall correctly, Rhodiola rosea/Sedum roseum has yellow fall colour.  I don't seem to have any photos of it in fall though.

In fall or in summers with hard frosts, R. integrifolia certainly adds colour to the alpine area.

Submitted by Hoy on Tue, 01/04/2011 - 03:10

It is a nice plant, Lori!
Here the common "rosenrot " (Rhodiola rosea) often gets red fall colors but yellow and orange colors occur as well.

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 01/04/2011 - 20:08

Very nice, Trond!  Yeah, I was basing my observation on only my one plant, which is clearly not too representative.

Submitted by Mark McD on Tue, 01/04/2011 - 20:32

Lori, the deep flower color on your R. integrifolia photos show a first class rock plant.  Looking at Calphotos and other images of R. integrifolia, I think the ones you show are very good forms.  Both your autumn photo, and Trond's photos, show how good the fall foliar color is too.  I always learn something when I see these postings, particularly those with links that tempt me to venture outside the post ;)

I see from the USDA Plant Profile link provided, there are 4 subspecies, 3 with restricted distribution in the USA; ssp. leedyi with disjunct distribution in Minnesota and New York, ssp. neomexicana from New Mexico (makes sense), and ssp. procera from Colorado & New Mexico.  I'd like to know the differences between the subspecies, but as the Flora of North America does not yet cover Crassulaceae (that I'm aware of), I'd like to find another reference or key to the subspecies.  Rick, have you ever come across ssp. leedyi in your Minnesota travels?

Submitted by RickR on Tue, 01/04/2011 - 22:34

In Minnesota, leedyi is on our endangered list, and it grows only in one specific place in Whitewater State Park.  It's on a slope, and above it is a  very deep opening (a crack? maybe a tiny cave? I haven't seen it) in the limestone bedrock from which a constant flow of cold air flows, and bathes the flora below all season long.  Its a rather rare microclimate for our region, and as you might expect, the plant community that grows there encompasses species that normally would not grow this far south.  I have never felt the "need" to seek this place out, although it is fairly well known in botany circles here, and the site itself is not secret, but I assumed is fenced off.

Whitewater state park is along the Mississippi River, and about 3/4 the way to Iowa from Minneapolis, south of (the city) Winona, in the very southeastern part of the state.  It is known for its fantastic display of ephemeral wildflowers, as well as the species of special note that grow on that particular slope.

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 01/04/2011 - 23:06

Very interesting, Rick.  

(Also, another thought to pursue, here or in another thread... what are the ephemeral wildflowers that grow there?)

Submitted by Mark McD on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 07:36

Great links there Trond even just for the photos, the view of nursery fields shown in the first link are amazing :o

Submitted by Mark McD on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 16:05

Weiser wrote:

Here is the Flora of North America link.

Thanks John... I wonder why most times the USDA Plant Profile pages include links to the Flora of North America pages when they exist, but it occasionally they miss adding the links, so I just assumed that part of the Flora wasn't published yet.  Interesting discussion on that FONA page putting into context the relationship between R. integrifolia, its subspecies, and R. rosea.

Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 19:17

John, it is an alpine here and tree line is at about 2100-2200m or so.  

Submitted by Weiser on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 19:33

That would put it at 8000'< (2500 meters) around here. That narrows the search down a little. ;)

Submitted by Boland on Mon, 01/10/2011 - 17:46

Lori, doesn't R. rosea grow in the Rockies too?  I have pictures of what i thought was rosea but perhaps it was integrifolia.  R. rosea is not that common in eastern newfoundland but is downright abundant in western-northern areas where it generally grows kissed by the ocean spray.  I have several in my garden...indespensible alpine in my opinion.

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 01/10/2011 - 18:57

Hi, Todd.  No, it seems R. rosea doesn't occur in the Rockies; here's the distribution of R. rosea , according to USDA Plants:

(The distribution of R. integrifolia is shown earlier also in this thread.)
I was mixed up between the two (R. rosea and R. integrifolia) until quite recently... given the number of name changes these two species have undergone, it's no wonder!

Submitted by Boland on Sun, 02/13/2011 - 17:40

Looks like I have to update my Rockies plant pics!

Submitted by Kelaidis on Sun, 02/13/2011 - 18:32

Technically, everything in Colorado should be "integrifolia" but most of the Rhodiolas in the southern part of the state have yellow flowers and look an awful lot like rosea: I think these are basically topotypes and closely allied. I grew a magnificent form of rosea under the rubric of Rhodiola "arctica" that looked more or less the same as what Todd showed: and they all look very much like the roseas from Central Asia I show below. I don't think I have put most of these on NARGS although some of you may have seen them on one of my various cloud repositories for pix that I'm using trying to figure out what to do with the thousands of pictures I take...sound familiar? I start off with two rosea from the Altai mountains of Mongolia (within a few hours march of both China and Russia--in that very corner of Mongolia where their highest mountains are)...the first the common form, the second a sort of monstruouse form. I follow up with a much higher altitude species from cold screes that is not likely to be hardy...the first shot of Rhodiola marginata is of a tiny specimen found growing along a gravelly riverbank far below its preferedc altitude (hence rather stunted) the second a more typical husky clump from high up. Next is is red cousin from the Tian Shan above Almaty: Rhodiola coccinea is stunning and also probably impossible in the garden. And the last few shots are of the gorgeous orange Rhodiola linearifolia I grew for many years in an ordinary scree: this is the gem of Rhodiolas for gardens, I believe...and we have a lot of seed sown this spring...I hope this is one we can introduce soon.

Submitted by Mark McD on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 14:08

Panayoti, these beauties fire up the imagination, I love the red and orange tones, let's hope that DGB or Plant Select gets Rhodiola linearifolia established in cultivation. In my dreams I grow R. coccinea ;D

Once again a sunny but cold wintery day, I put my google goggles on, strapped myself in my turbo-charged armchair, and took a spin to China looking for more Rhodiola species.  The flora of China lists 55 species, about a dozen and a half subtaxa, with 16 species endemic to China.  I saved you all about 2 hours of clicking on every species, to harvest links to images buried within the species descriptions.  There are also some very nice line drawings.  

Flora of China:

Rhodiola alsia

R. bupleuroides

R. crenulata

R. kirilowii

R. macrocarpa:

R. nobilis
pink: http://www.efloras.org/object_page.aspx?object_id=89024&flora_id=800

Line drawings:
1.  R. smithii, R. prainii, R. staphii (look at the mega carrot root on R. smithii)

2.  R. hobsonii, R. humilis, Sinocrassula densirosulata, S. techinensis

3.  R. primuloides, R. fastigiata, R. pamiroalaica, R. litwinowii

4.  R. alsia, R. kirilowii, R. bupleuroides

5.  R. gelida, R. quadrifida, R. subopposita, R. tibetica

6.  R. yunnanensis, R. chrysanthemifolia, R. liciae

Rhodiola linearifolia, from Ornamental Plants from Russia

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 14:16

Mark, thank you very much for doing the time consuming work (albeit a little exciting maybe?) ;)
Panayoti, I knew the existence of some of those Rhodiolas but thank you for showing! However, you give me a problem: Now I want to grow them!

Submitted by RickR on Sun, 02/20/2011 - 21:37

Mark, I also appreciate your gleanings.  We all benefit from these extra efforts.

And, I to grow R. coccinea in my dreams!

Submitted by Boland on Tue, 02/22/2011 - 09:53

PK, that rosea form from Mongolia is striking..and I am rather fond of the marginata...coccinea is the stuff of dreams!  Rhodiola have not been given the attention they deserve.

Submitted by cohan on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 18:01

Lots of beauties! I've looked at the many Rhodiolas on the Czech seed lists, but not tried any yet..
I'd love to get seed from Alberta forms, but seems impossible unless I run into them myself- though I can easily get Asians and U.S. forms sold by Alplains!

Lori, in your first set of pics of integrifolia, the second last photo- what are the leaves behind against the rock, Dryas?

Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 03/08/2012 - 19:29

Yes, probably Dryas octopetala from what I can make out on this laptop.