Echium pininana

Echium pininana (340)

Common names:

  • Tree echium
  • Pine echium
  • Giant viper's-bugloss
  • Tower of Jewels
  • Blue Steeple

Location in the Gardens:

Season of interest:

  • mid to late summer

Description of plant:

Biennial or triennial, showing little more than leaf in the first year, but subsequently produces a dense, 4 metres (13 ft) high (potentially) flower spike that carries a dense mass of leaves and small blue flowers.

Ideal growing conditions and habitat:

Vulnerable to frosts in its first year and susceptible to wind damage; a sheltered garden position is essential.

Echiums don't always agree with where you think they should grow! Placing them at the rear of the border in the hope they will grow upright will have your echiums crawling through the border only to poke out at the front. Stick them in a corner and they will lean forwards often overbalancing. To get them to co-operate fully and grow upright they want a spot that receives sun from different angles.

Country of origin:

  • La Palma, Canary Islands

Highdown history:

Planted by Stern in 1925, donated by Major A. Dorrien-Smith, Tresco Abbey, Scilly Isles.

Other interesting information:

Its native habitat is laurel forests, where it is now endangered through habitat loss. Seed lies dormant for as long as 7 years.

Echium pininana (744)

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