Aeonium balsamiferum (Balsam Houseleek) - An upright growing shrub-like plant 3 to 4 feet tall with many near vertical branching succulent gray-brown colored stems grouped together with each tipped with tight 6- to 8-inch-wide rosettes of slightly sticky light green spoon shaped leaves with soft pointed tips that have the distinct aroma of balsam. Small light-yellow flowers in 6- to 10-inch-long panicles occasionally rise above the foliage in mid-summer, but this doesn't seem to be a common occurrence.
Plant in a well-drained soil in full coastal sun to part sun or light shade inland and water infrequently to occasionally - can tolerate occasional to little or no irrigation in coastal California gardens. This plant was not damaged during our January 2007 freeze with 3 nights in a row down to 25°F and others report it hardy to short duration temperatures around 23°F. A great tough and attractive plant massed as the understory of larger succulent plants like tree aloes or even uses for a short screen.
Aeonium balsamiferum is native to shrublands and rocky areas the eastern Canary Island of Lanzarote and has naturalized on Fuerteventura. The name Aeonium comes for Greek word 'aionion' or 'aionios' meaning immortal or everlasting for its succulent nature and presumed longevity. The specific epithet is in reference to the pleasant balsam fragrance of its leaves and is particularly noticeable when smelling the center of a rosette - a diagnostic feature for identifying this plant. In the Canary Islands this plant is called Alfarroba, which is a Portuguese name for the carob tree and also Bejeque Ffarrobo, which is thought to be a Moorish translation of a name used by the aboriginal Canary Island Guanche people. We thank plantsman John Bleck for our original plants of this species.
The information about Aeonium balsamiferum displayed on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources we consider reliable. We will also relate those observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments we receive from others and welcome hearing from anyone who has additional information, particularly when they share cultural information that would aid others in growing it.