Originating from Guernsey, Echium pininana alba, also known as Echium 'Snow Tower' is a rare white form of the Tree Echium. A hardy biennial that grows a large rosette of silver-grey leaves in the first year, and a tall white flower spike up to 15ft high in the second year.
The magnificent inflorescence with dense panicles of white flowers borne above branches of dusty linear leaves is produced from June to September. When in bloom, it is a magnet for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, on a sunny day, as you approach the plant you can hear the hum of hundreds of bees feasting on the flowers.
It needs to survive two winters before coming into flower and requires a partially shaded spot and always moist, slightly peaty, yet well drained soil. It will tolerate dappled shade. The rosettes of large leaves are attractive even as a non-flowering plant the tall flower spire is worth waiting for.
Most plants will be white although the odd variant colour will always appear. You can easily see this at the small plant stage when you will discover that the plants with pale green stems are guaranteed to have pure white flowers.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
In 2002 Echium pininana was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
A key indicator that this variety is worth growing in your garden.
Sowing: Sow in late spring to early summer.
Sow 3mm (1/8in) deep in good seed sowing compost from late May-late July.
Germination takes 21 to 45 days at 21°C (70°F)
When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) pots and over-winter in a cool greenhouse, conservatory or on a well lit windowsill with a temperature of around 7°C (45°F). Plant out the following spring 1m (3ft) apart, into a sunny site with well drained soil.
They can also be grown in 30cm (12in) pots to flower in a conservatory or cool greenhouse.
Although this species is proving to be quite cold hardy, its best to cover the base of the plants with a little bracken or similar to protect it from severe frosts> Keep dry over winter if possible.
Be careful when handling this plant and consider using gloves. As with most of the Echium family, the leaves have tiny allergenic hairs that may prove an irritant in some sensitive individuals.
If a plant is not going to flower, it can be made to branch by cutting the growing tip out with a sharp knife in October. This will create a multi-headed plant which will produce up to 6 flower spikes the following year.
Beds and borders, Cottage/Informal, Drought Tolerant, Greenhouse, Low Maintenance, Planted in groups, Sub-Tropical, Wildflower.
Echium 'Pink Tower' is a hybrid between E wildpretii x Echium pininana bred in Devon. E. pininana is native to La Palma where it is a highly threatened species in the mountainous laurel cloud forest, while E. wildpretii is endemic to the island of Tenerife, and is found mainly in Las Cañadas del Teide.
The stately towers of a number of Echium species came to English gardening first in the Scillies, where they slowly colonised the lanes and front gardens near the famous Abbey Gardens on Tresco. Visiting Cornish gardeners fancied growing it, and this spectacular tourist happily jumped to the mainland.
The genus Echium is named from the Greek echis meaning 'a viper,' it is thought to derive from the shape of the seed, which resembles a viper's head.
E. wildpretii is named for Hermann Josef Wildpret, the 19th century Swiss botanist, while E. pininana is named for the botanical description 'pinnate' which describes the arrangement of the leaves on either side of the stem.
The word 'alba' refers to the white colour of the flowers. It derives from the Latin word album for a ‘writing tablet’ now used to mean ‘white’ in reference to the tablets historically being white.
The common names are Tower of Jewels, Red Bugloss, Tenerife Bugloss or Mount Teide bugloss. The Spanish word for this plant is tajinaste.
The name bugloss is of Greek origin, from a word signifying an ox's tongue, and alluding to the roughness and shape of the plant's leaves. The plant belongs to the borage family, Boraginaceae.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 30 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 200 seeds per gram Family Boraginaceae Genus Echium Species pininana alba Cultivar Snow Tower Synonym Echium pininana alba Common Name Tower of Jewels Other Common Names Tree Echium Hardiness Tender Perennial Hardy Minimum temperature: -5°C (23°F) Flowers White Natural Flower Time June to September. Foliage Green linear leaves Height to 4m (12ft) Spread 90cm (3ft) Aspect Full sun. Soil Moist soil, Coastal Germination 21 to 45 days at 21°C (70°F)