Rock Pink (Fame Flower)

Phemeranthus calycinus (formerly Talinum calycinum)

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Photo of two magenta flowers of a rock pink plant
Rock pink is a succulent perennial with slender, naked flower stalks.
Noppadol Paothong
Family

Portulacaceae (purslanes)

Description

Succulent perennial with slender, naked flower stalks. Flowers in open, terminal groups, with 2 sepals shed at opening, 5 deep pink to purplish red petals, and many stamens. Flowers do not open until about noon, even on sunny days. Blooms May-August. Leaves basal, fleshy, round in cross-section, awl-like, to 2 inches long. Root a thick rhizome, like a miniature German iris root.

Similar species: Small (or prairie) fame flower (P. parviflorus) has shorter leaves, smaller flowers, and fewer stamens (usually 4-8).

Size

Height: to 1 foot.

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Photo of a rock pink blooming on chert glade at Wildcat Glades
Rock Pink (Fame Flower)
Rock pink, or fame flower, blooms on a chert glade at Wildcat Glades in southwestern Missouri.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in rocky glades and sandstone and chert outcroppings with acid soils. Often grows in large colonies, with plants growing out of rock crevices without apparent soil. This plant is sometimes called "flower-of-an-hour" because its flowers often don't open until the afternoon.

image of Rock Pink Fame Flower distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Generally found south of the Missouri River, but cultivated statewide.

Human connections

A good native plant for sunny rock gardens, but it doesn't compete well with robust, taller vegetation. Rock pink is in the same family (purslanes) as the well-known garden flower called "moss rose" or "portulaca."

Ecosystem connections

Plants can have many adaptations that help them survive in glades and other hot, dry places. This plant has succulent leaves that store water, with a waxy outer surface that reduces water loss. The limited flowering time is also a strategy for maximizing pollination while minimizing evaporation.