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Turquoise Puya

Echium vulcanorum

This is a rare look at the beautiful Echium vulcanorum.  It is found only in one spot on earth - the small, volcanic island of Fogo, 400 miles off the coast of West Africa.  This large, attractive shrub lights up with hundreds of white and blue flowers.  It is an endangered species that is facing many threats, including humans, animals, and an active volcano!  This is an extremely hard to find plant.  It is almost never seen for sale.

Echium vulcanorum

  Echium vulcanorum is a woody, perennial bush that grows to 7 feet tall and wide if left unpruned.  It has leathery, silver-green leaves which lack the bristly, irritating hairs found on many Echium species.  Flowers can appear throughout the year, but the heaviest show is in Spring, when the plant becomes covered with large, cone-shaped clusters of blossoms.  Each funnel-shaped flower is just under an inch long, and is pearly white with streaks of blue emanating from the center.  The blooms are much loved by honeybees.  Many Echium species only flower once and then die, but Echium vulcanorum is a long-lived species that blooms well for many years.  Its population has been greatly reduced on the island due to harvesting it for firewood, and feral goats that ravage the plants.  The last remaining plants are found near the opening of an active volcano, which occasionally erupts with hot lava. 

Echium vulcanorum

The island of Fogo is part of the Cape Verde archipelago, which has a mild, arid climate.  The plant is untested in warmer growing conditions.  It's possible that it won't thrive if temperatures are consistently above the low-80s (28C), especially if nights are warm.  It probably can survive a few degrees of frost, but i recommend protecting it from all frost.  It may be grown indoors in a large pot.  The plant needs fast-draining soil of low fertility.  A good soil mix is 1 part pumice or perlite, 1 part coarse sand, and 1 part potting soil.  It prefers relatively dry soil once established, but it can handle frequent watering in quick-draining soil.  Full sun is best, except in warmer climates, where some afternoon shade might be needed.

Echium vulcanorum

Echium vulcanorum

 

Volcano photo by Tim Porter

 

Check availability

 

Germination tips for this plant

 

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Turquoise Puya

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