The massive spikes of lavender flowers, often reaching 6 feet high, that appear each spring in background spots around SFBG, are species of Echium, a shrub from the Mediterranean area, the island of Madera and the Canary Islands. Echium has become widely naturalized along our west coast, especially at the edge of the bay or along sunny coastal bluffs above the ocean. Called “Tower of Jewels” or “Pride of Madera”, depending on the species, Echium is an energetic member of the Borage family with invasive tendencies that have elicited warnings of “do not plant” from as far away as Australia and New Zealand where it has become a nuisance!
In bloom, it is undeniably an eye stopper, with its dense panicles of deep blue forget-me-not type flowers borne terminally above massive branches of dusty linear leaves, often bristly to the touch and sometimes causing a rash.
Echium has positive attributes. When in bloom, it is a magnet for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, is deer resistant, hardy and drought tolerant. Its needs are sun, good drainage and occasional watering.
||Drought tolerant, good drainage, likes full sun but can handle shade as well
||Considered a weed and some species are quite invasive, however, if you are looking for something that requires very little or no care, Echium might be an interesting choice.
||Echium plantegineum (Patterson's Curse) is a major invasive species in Australia
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Echium can be found in the Demonstration Garden (Bed 3E), the Garden of Fragrance (Bed 9), the California Garden (Bed 31) and in the Redwood Trail (Bed 48.)
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Docents Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil
Profile Contributor: David Kruse-Pickler, Associate Curator