May 14, 2019 | Bridget Blomquist, Horticulturist

Echium candicans, blooming now in the Orangery (much to the delight of the horticulturist who tends the Gardens’ Echium species), took three years of growing to finally bloom. Its candelabra-like blossoms are a bluish purple and irresistible to pollinators, like those of its cousin Echium wildpretii, also grown here at the Gardens. E. candicans is native to the Canary Islands, specifically the Island of Madeira, and is also called the Pride of Madeira. Other synonyms of E. candicans include E. fastuosum.

Horticulturists carefully monitor the Echium plants growing at the Gardens since Colorado’s climate is not hospitable for these coastal climate plants. E. candicans thrives in moderate temperatures not rising above 75 degrees and not dipping below 40 degrees. This branching habit type of Echium has enjoyed a somewhat regulated temperature environment in the Orangery, which has provided an adequate home for it to bloom. A biannual plant, it needs a period of cooling temperatures for it to initiate blossom formation. It then produces seeds which can disperse and germinate easily given the right conditions.

In coastal California where the environment is ideal for Echium candicans to grow, you may have seen it along the hillsides of The Gardens of Alcatraz and Golden Gate Park in the San Francisco Bay. It has become an invasive weed threating native plant communities in Golden Gate National Recreation Area and efforts are being made to remove it as part of a restoration project.

Be sure to visit Echium candicans in the Orangery while you can and enjoy its beautiful blooms.

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