Tower of jewels update

2011 has been a great year in the garden so far. My personal highlight was following the miraculous development of our tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii) as it turned from a modest but attractive rosette of leaves 1 ft. high and 2 ft. across into a 5 ft. tall conical structure covered with hundreds, if not thousands, of small flowers within a space of seven months.

Check out this post to see photos taken between October 2010 and May 2011.

After the bloom peaked in mid-May, the flowers quickly dried up and fell off. By the end of May, the tower was completely bare.

110518_echium_wildpretii_02  110611_echium_wildpretii_01
May 18, 2011                                                 June 11, 2011

However, the work done by untold numbers of bees was not in vain.

In full bloom on May 5, 2011

Untold numbers of seeds, neatly arranged in pairs of two, have formed all over the tower.

Seeds on June 15, 2011

What’s particularly interesting is that the seeds aren’t protected inside some sort of structure. Instead, they’re out in the open, exposed and seemingly vulnerable. But that must be the plant’s strategy for propagation. Maybe the exposed seeds are supposed to fall off as the plant sways in the wind? Or maybe they are supposed to be eaten by birds?

Eventually, the entire tower will fall over, scattering the seeds far and wide, but I wonder what will happen in the meantime? I’ll keep my eyes open—and my camera ready.

One thing is certain: There will be plenty of seeds to go around. If you’d like some, just let me know.


  1. So this is a biennial? Does that mean that seed planted now will germinate next year, so it won't flower until 2013? Or will they germinate now, making it flower next year?

  2. Alan, yes, it's a biennial. I imagine seed planted now would germinate now, but I wouldn't expect it to flower until two years from now, i.e. in 2013. But I've had biennials (like black eyes susans) that were started in the fall and then flowered late in the following year.


Post a Comment