Plant Filter: Name That Flower
March 19, 2013 3:08 PM   Subscribe

What is the name of these blue flowers?

This may be stupidly easy for anyone who knows anything about plants (which leaves me out). I took the photo today. I would like to know their name so I can read more about them. They smell strongly like tea, so are probably high in tannins. I am in San Diego county, Southern California, if you need to know.
posted by Michele in California to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Fnarf at 3:32 PM on March 19, 2013

The leaves look more like an Echium species of some kind.
Echium fastuosum
Echium candicans

or something similar.
posted by Azara at 3:46 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thank you. That does look a lot closer and the description fits, though, so far, I am not finding much info.
posted by Michele in California at 3:50 PM on March 19, 2013

Azara for the win. They grow all over my town, a northern California beach town. Bees seem to like them.
posted by Lynsey at 3:56 PM on March 19, 2013

The only Echiums I know well here in Ireland are the ordinary weedy Viper's Bugloss, and the amazing giant Tree Echium which can grow to 15 foot tall, so I'm afraid I can't pin down the species any further!
posted by Azara at 3:59 PM on March 19, 2013

Your first link looks to me (plant idiot though I am) like it is dead on the money. I think I have what I asked for. I was wondering about its chemical make-up and medicinal uses. It smells so strongly like tea, I am confident it is high in tannins. But so far I can't seem to find that info. My son is looking. He has better scientific google-fu than I have.
posted by Michele in California at 4:05 PM on March 19, 2013

I stand corrected. So much for my first foray into ask.mefi. Echium is obviously right.

If it's Echium candicans, California classifies it as "invasive".
posted by Fnarf at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2013

I would avoid "medicinal uses". All parts of the plant contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids and are poisonous, though the irritation is mild unless you put it in your mouth.
posted by Fnarf at 4:17 PM on March 19, 2013

I was curious to read up on it. I don't have any plans to use it, medicinally or otherwise. I am marking your answer as a best answer for the informational links. I imagine we would strongly disagree about what is and is not acceptable risk in medical choices. This isn't the place for that discussion.

Marking my question "resolved."

posted by Michele in California at 4:35 PM on March 19, 2013

Yep, that plant has given me itchy skin and a rash on many occasions of pruning...handle with care.
posted by silvergoat at 5:29 PM on March 19, 2013

How nice to have a more accurate name for these than what I've been calling them ("purple rhino horns").
posted by Lexica at 6:14 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

FYI, the link in the question will die soon. Pic has been moved here: blue flowers

(I am perfectly okay with the mods updating the link and deleting this. Just trying to avoid bothering them unnecessarily.)
posted by Michele in California at 3:15 PM on February 11, 2014

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