Selenite, satin spar, desert rose, and gypsum flower are four varieties of the mineral gypsum; all four varieties show obvious crystalline structure. The four “crystalline” varieties of gypsum are sometimes grouped together and called selenite. All varieties of gypsum, including selenite and alabaster, are composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate (meaning has two molecules of water), with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. Selenite contains no significant selenium; the similarity of names comes from both substances being named from the Ancient Greek word for the Moon.
All varieties of gypsum are very soft minerals (hardness: 2 on Mohs Scale). This is the most important identifying characteristic of gypsum, as any variety of gypsum can be easily scratched with a fingernail. Also, because gypsum has natural thermal insulating properties, all varieties feel warm to the touch.