There are many species in the Sempervivum genus, each unique and with particular properties. Noted by Linnaeus in 1757, the genus name translates to "always living," a reference to the plants' hardy, drought-tolerant nature, enabling it to survive in both intense heat and frost. They are also known as houseleeks, hens, chicks, or hen's nests in some areas.
While each species has its own unique traits and properties, all share an inherent hardiness in dry, arid conditions. However, because they evolved to exist in regions largely devoid of water for the majority of the year, they are highly suceptable to over-watering and potential rotting--either from fungus or from being waterlogged.
Today, we'll be talking about the ever-lovely Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusoni), first described by Hildmann (1891). I will admit that the barrel cactus has always been a favorite of mine. In retrospect, that is likely because it looks much like a cuddly pillow (unlike the soft-spined Paraguan and Brasilian native, (Notocactus leninghausii), but I digress.