This post was originally titled “Native Beauty,” as I had seen these beautiful purple flowers up and down the coast near Carmel, California. With a bit of research, however, I found that these stunning flowers are an invasive species known as Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans). In fact, forestry officials are removing them from native plant communities as part of habitat restoration efforts in coastal parks such as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The genus name is from an ancient Greek word for the plant. It is derived from “echion,” with the root word “echis” meaning “viper.” There are conflicting etymological justifications for the name, including that the shape of the seed resembles that of a viper’s head, and that Echium Vulgare, a related plant, was a historically thought to be a remedy for the adder’s bite. Candicans or “shining white” refers to one of the more famous varietals in Madeira, Portugal, where the plants originate. It was originally referred to as Echium Fatuosum, which is where the “pride” in the name originated. In California, however, the purple E. Candicans varietal shown in the photograph is the most common.
Click here for a larger version.