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Hen and chicks (also known as hen-and-chickens, or hen-and-biddies in the American South) is a common name for a group of small succulent plants belonging to the flowering plant family Crassulaceae, native to Europe and northern Africa. They grow close to the ground with leaves formed around each other in a rosette, and propagating by offsets. The "hen" is the main plant, and the "chicks" are the offspring, which start as tiny buds on the main plant and soon sprout their own roots, taking up residence close to the mother plant.
Hen and chicks is also the popular name of a strain of opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, in which the seed head is surrounded by clusters of smaller heads, and is the common name of Chlorophytum comosum from South Africa.
Plants commonly referred to as "Hens and chicks" include ground hugging species of Sempervivum (houseleeks) such as Sempervivum Pekinese, Sempervivum arachnoideum (cobweb houseleek), and Sempervivum tectorum (common houseleek); and the related genus Jovibarba. The name is also used for some species of Echeveria, Sedum and Bergenia although these plants differ significantly from, and should not be confused with, Sempervivum and Jovibarba. The description below provides characteristics of Sempervivum and Jovibarba only.
Hen and chicks is popular in gardens for its varied and interesting appearance and hardiness. It is grown as container planting or in rock gardens. It does best in well-drained, rocky soil; if they are kept wet, the outer leaves will rot. Although it does best in sun, it will grow in light shade.