Echium - Viper's-buglosses

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Echium or Viperine is familiar to us in the form of the modest Echium vulgare, the Viper's Herb: this pretty plant with its superb blue and red flower spikes colonizes uncultivated areas like the roadside. Those who have visited the Mediterranean islands will no doubt remember Echium candicans (fastuosum), the Madeira Viperine and its cousin, Echium pininana from the Canary Islands, majestic bushes raising tall spikes of intense blue over 1.50m (5ft) from the ground. The genus Echium, from the family Boraginaceae, actually includes 40 species of annuals, biennials, or herbaceous or shrubby perennials. While the large Mediterranean Echiums are reserved for mild climates, there are also beautiful perennial and hardy Viperines like Echium russicum, with its red flower spikes, easy to grow everywhere.

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