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ECHIUM pininana

Image of Echium pininana

James H. Schutte

Family

Boraginaceae

Botanical Name

ECHIUM pininana

Plant Common Name

Giant Viper's Bugloss, Pine Echium, Tree Echium

General Description

Small, unassuming rosettes of linear, dusty green foliage develop floral columns lined with small violet-blue flowers that burst upward to heights of 8- to 10-feet (2.5- to 3.25-meters). A native of the dry inland laurel forests of the Canary Islands, tree echium survives as a half-hardy biennial. It is a spectacular plant in bloom and has become endangered in its native habitat, though it is very popular in cultivation.

Dense rosettes of linear, silvery or dusty green foliage overwinter and in the summer of the following year huge spikes lined with curled clusters of tiny blue flowers appear. Each little tubular bloom attracts bees and opens in sequence from the bottom of the cluster to the top. The plant dies after flowering and setting seed. The seeds are produced in profusion and self-sow, sometimes heavily.

This sun-loving ornamental can withstand dry, imperfect soil but requires perfect drainage. It is a tender biennial that will only overwinter where winter conditions are mild. Allow it to lightly self-sow to ensure new seedlings will pop up. This is a spectacularly showy garden flower for the summer garden. Be sure to plant it among plants that remain showy and bushy into fall as the plants die completely after blooming.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 10

  • Plant Type

    Biennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    8'-10' / 2.4m - 3.0m

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Canary Islands

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Blue, Blue Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes