Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans or Echium fastuosum) is a rapidly growing tropical or tender perennial/biennial shrub from the borage family (boraginaceae) that grows up to eight feet in full sun; another species found on campus is Tower of Jewels (Echium wildpretii). These somewhat tender natives of Madeira and the Canary Islands can only survive temperaturesdown to 30° Fahrenheit, need summer days with high heat and do well in poor, dry soils. Sounds like a perfect Davis pairing! In their natural habitat they grow on windswept limestone outcrops. The striking blooms of these drought- and deer-tolerant evergreen make it attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Either of these Echiums propagate from cuttings or seed and make a bold addition to any xeric landscape.
Pride of Madeira is a large evergreen shrub-like woody perennial with small white or purple blossoms in dense 20" long cone shaped clusters; this plant flowers through spring and ends by the start of summer in Davis. Long, silver-haired leaves are held at the ends of this multi-branched bush. Pride of Madeira has completed its flowering by June in Davis, leaving only the green spires... these should be removed and the entire plant cut back hard before winter.
Echium wildpretii, or Tower of Jewels, was found in this beautiful landscape in front of Storer Hall and may also be found in the Arboretum Tower of Jewels spreads just about three feet wide, forming a dense basal rosette of silver green foliage its first year, and elongating during its second spring to create a six- to twelve-foot tower of jewels. Hundreds of coral pink flowers cover the spike by late spring, about three weeks after Pride of Madeira has spent its last blossom.
Note: Handling Echiums may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction from contact with the hairy leaves.
Echiums have been spotted northeast of Wellman Hall as well as on the western end of Hoagland Hall, in front of Storer Hall, by the Sciences Laboratory Building, and in the Arboretum. For a listing of other plants found growing in Davis, visit our Town Flora.