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Botany Photo of the Day
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Eremostachys laciniata

Eremostachys laciniata
Eremostachys laciniata
Eremostachys laciniata
Eremostachys laciniata

The first photograph for today's entry is courtesy of Amir A. from Israel (thank you for another contribution!). The remaining photographs, as well as the write-up, are thanks to UBC Botanical Garden horticulturist Jackie Chambers. Much appreciated once again! Jackie writes:

The upright stems of this perennial can reach 100-150cm high, but the most striking feature has to be the wooly texture — it's nearly impossible to look at this plant without stroking it. Sometimes called desert spike, Eremostachys laciniata occurs in fields and fallow land throughout Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.

The plant is well-adapted to life in the eastern Mediterranean — the leaves emerge after the winter rains, the flowers are produced in the spring, and by summer the whole plant has died back to the ground in order to avoid the heat.

The genus name Eremostachys is derived from two Greek words. The first is eremia, meaning “desert”. The second is stachys, which literally means “ear of corn”, but was a term instead used by the Greeks to describe the inflorescence of a particular group of plants: the genus Stachys (another member of the Lamiaceae). Those of you familiar with the genus Stachys will recognize the woolly texture and hooded flowers, and appreciate the literal Latin name of “desert stachys”. The species name is similarly descriptive: laciniata means “slashed or torn into narrow divisions”, and refers to the heavily lobed leaves.

The flowers are produced from March to May and are each 3-4 cm long. Flower colour can range anywhere from white to pale yellow, through to a pinky, purple brown. Just like the stems, the calyx is also woolly. The flowers are bilabiate, meaning the corolla is divided into “two lips”, a fused upper section of petals and a fused lower section of petals. Flowers are arranged in whorls along the flower spike, and the fruits are four single seeded units per flower, called nutlets. The flower and fruit shape are typical of the mint family.

Eremostachys laciniata is part of an interesting ongoing Israeli research project investigating the use of various native plants as possible cut flower crops. More photos of this attractive plant are available via the Flora of Israel.

10 Comments

What a fine write-up, informative and well-written. Thank you Jackie. It's wonderful to have someone as good as Daniel for the site.

Deborah Gibson

is this plant not of interest
the write up is very good

now --the last image-i have zoom on
plus used 250 and 400

who please is the person in the back
in the blue outfit i think i see
cars in the background and it seems cold

where am i and where are you

Wonderful plant. I'd love to grow it. What is the evolutionary advantage of the wooly stems? Is it related to moisture conservation?

Eremostachys laciniata - Z8 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths

Its interesting that you mention stroking the plant Jackie, because my first instinct was "It looks like a thistle and is wooly, I wouldn't touch it." Thats especially the case since in my experience, trichomes tend to be far more painful than regular spines.

Im very surprised that it is soft and pleasant (or at least I would assume so, otherwise far less stroking would be going on)

Thank you very much for your comments; it is lovely to hear positive feedback.

The last photo in this series was taken at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in the springtime, so the temperature would have been cool but comfortable, probably some where around 12 C. The person in the background is a wonderful soul named Alec.

As for the texture of the plant - it reminds me of Stachys byzantina (Lambs Ears) - very strokable indeed! Hairs are often an adaptation to very hot environments - the light colour reflects the suns radiation, and the layer of hair helps to regulate the plants temperature and retain moisture.

WOW!!! Thanx! This is really cool - I'd love to have one in my garden. What a wonderful addition to the spring flora!! It looks fantastic - the leaves, the hairy 'buds' - everything!! And as a cut flower - WOW again. I must, just must, get my hands on some seeds even if I've got to take it indoors during the horrible Swedish winters. Thanks again!!

these are really interesting looking plants!

wonderful write up.
but please do mention about its conservation status.

Thanks for the fantastic photos. I have grown this plant from seed (in Wales/UK) and it flowered well this summer (May/June).

Do you know what is best to do with it after flowering? What do I do with the long stalks?

I hope there is some advice on this.

All Best

Pixi

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