Aeonium arboreum (Schwarzkopf)

Arabic Name: أيونيوم

There are about 35 species of Aeonium. All but two are found in the islands located off the coast of North Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.  Aeonium arboreum (Schwarzkopf) is one of the two mainland species native to the Atlantic coast of Morocco.   

Schwarzkopf is a perennial succulent that grows to a height of 0.6m, with a spread of 0.4m.  It is Moderate growing, taking one to two years to reach its mature size.  Flowers bloom in winter, from November to January.

Requirements: Grows in full sun, and part shade.  It can be adequately protected from the sun by the overhead branches of adjacent trees.It needs well-drained soil; and a raised bed may be helpful in allowing for efficient draining. Note that Aeoniums do not tolerate frost.

Water usage: very low little watering (once a month).

Appearance:  A bushy succulent that branches from near the base. Branched stems are each crowned by a rosette that is up to 15cm across, and that consists of broadly lance-shaped, glossy leaves.  Yellow, star-shaped flowers appear on mature rosettes that are 2 to 3 years old, contrasting with the dark leaves. They are borne in conical clusters at the end of one or more stems.  After flowering, these stems will die back, but new branches will replace them.

Notes on use: Accent plant; effective in rock gardens and in pots.  However, it is much more impressive and beautiful in the ground, where the plant can grow to reach much larger sizes.  The plan has a sculptural quality.

Propagation: The plant is very easy to propagate from softwood cuttings. Cut off a rosette and let it harden off for three days or more, allowing the cut surface to callous over before planting. The cutting can then be placed directly into a well-drained mix to root.

Potting: Aeoniums grow well in unglazed terracotta pots that have at least one drainage hole in the base. This type of pots allows for good drainage and also allows the compost (and therefore roots) to breathe.  The plant needs porous, well-drained soil, with a generous amount of limestone chips and sand. Repotting should be done every other year or every three years. Annual potting is not necessary.

Maintenance:  In order too keep the plant’s form compact, or to control its height, cut back in early spring.

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This article is part of a series of articles prepared by the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE) on water conserving landscapes.  

For additional information on water conserving gardens, visit the CSBE web site at

Support for the CSBE project on water conserving landscapes is provided by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).