This plant has been drawing my attention for a while, especially as it has stayed so green while everything else dies off for winter. Known as Pennywort or Pennypies (for its shape) and Navelwort (for the cute little dimple in the leaves’ middle), Umbilicus rupestris is a plant with some fondly given common names. It’s the bellybutton plant (umbilicus) found growing in stone walls (rupestris = found on rocks) and is botanically placed in the stonecrop family, Crassulaceae, along with the houseleek. Pennywort appears so healthily green, glossy and decorative, it’s as if a fashionable houseplant has escaped to a dry stone wall. Its traditional medicinal uses are cooling and soothing and it’s said to have a mild analgesic action on grazes and minor burns, applied direct as a poultice. The leaves, available all year, can also be picked and added to salad.

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