This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(from the Greek for a viper). Boraginaceae. Viper's Bugloss. Coarse, mostly rough herbs and shrubs, with spikes of blue, violet, red or white flowers, some of them grown in the open and others under glass.
Plant usually scabrous, hispid or canescent: leaves alternate: flowers in unilateral, scirpioid, forked or simple spikes, with either small or foliaceous bracts; calyx with 5 narrow lobes; corolla tubular-trumpet-shaped, the throat oblique and dilated and without appendages; corolla-lobes 5, roundish and unequal, somewhat spreading or erect; stamens 5, inserted below middle of tube, unequal and exserted; ovary deeply 4-lobed; style filiform, 2-parted at top: fruit 4 nutlets. - Some 30-40 species, from the Canaries and Madeira (where they are specially important) to W. Asia. One species, E. vulgare, Linn., is a showy introduced biennial weed in fields and along roadsides, with blue or rose-tinted flowers; it is known as blue-weed and blue-devil. The shrubby species of Madeira and the Canaries are much confused, some of the names having been established on cult, material. This is particularly true of the forms passing as E. candicans and E. fastuosum, which are very unsatisfactorily determined (See Hooker, B.M. 6868). In those islands, the plants produce much forage and they persist from the goats in inaccessible places. (The portraits quoted below are cited under the names they bear.)
In rich soil echiums grow coarse and scarcely flower, and the flowers are never as richly colored as when the plants are more or less starved. Biennials seed freely, and the seed is sown as soon as gathered. E. fastuosum is said to be the handsomest of the shrubby kinds, grows 2 to 4 feet high, has long, pale green leaves covered with soft white hairs, and flowers of a peculiarly brilliant deep blue. Echiums are eminently suited for dry places, and need good drainage.
Linn. f. (E. fastuosum, Jacq. f., not Ait. E. truncatum, Hort.). Forms a bush several feet high, but flowers at 3 ft., the leaves and stems white-hairy: branches thick, leafy toward the tips: leaves lanceolate, the upper ones smaller, crowded and narrower: panicles much looser than the spikes of E. fastuosum; flowers sessile, pale blue, the buds reddish purple, the pink stamens protruding. Madeira, Canaries, on mountains. B.M. 6868. B.R. 44. G.C. III. 51:368. GiM. 55:376. - The flowers are said sometimes to be streaked with white or all white.
Ait., not Jacq. This has darker blue flowers in a dense spike and perhaps less hoary foliage than E. candicans, the protruding filaments nearly white (said by some to be white in E. candicans). Coast, Canaries. R.H. 1876:10. Gn. 10:546. G.C. III. 33:328. G.W. 15, p. 356. - E. fastuosum has dark blue, 5-lobed flowers about 1/2in. across, in spikes 6 in. long and 2 in. wide, perhaps as many as 200 flowers in a spike. Great masses of stamens are thrust out and add to the interest, and the young flower-buds look like pink 5-pointed stars.
DC. Woody but biennial and not branched, 8-10 ft.: leaves ample, oval-lanceolate: panicle very long, cylindrical, spike-like, the spikelets 2-flowered, pedicelled; stigmas simple. R.H. 1912, p. 351. Gt. 51, p. 375. G.C. III. 53:20.
E. Auberianum, Hort., not Webb & Berth.=E. Bourgeanum. - E. Bourgeanum, Webb. Stout and strict, 8-11 ft., the si. covered with long-linear drooping leaves: flowers rose-colored, in a dense pyramidal spike. Mountains, Canaries. R.H. 1912, p. 440. G.C. III. 53:25. A striking plant. - E. callithyrsum, Webb. Woody or treelike, robust, hispid-hairy: leaves strongly nerved: calyx-segments very unequal: flowers pale red: floral leaves exceeding the different cymes of the thyrse. Canaries. - E. formosum, Pers.=Lobostemon. - E. Pininana, Webb. & Berth. Very large species, reaching 16 ft., with an abundance of stout spreading long-oblong leaves G.C. III. 53:20. - E. Wildpretii, Pears. A tall soft-hairy biennial, with simple erect stem 2-3 ft.: leaves sessile, narrowly linear-lanceolate, hairy: flowers pale red with long-exserted filaments, in a large terminal thyrse: floral leaves much exceeding the different cymes. Canaries. B.M. 7847. G.C. III. 38:5; 52:317. G.M. 53:111. Gn. 76, p. 363. G.
27:26L Wilhelm Miller.
L. H. B.†