Red Feathers Plant
Echium amoenum Fisch. & C.A.Mey. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Red Feathers Plant. It was first described by Friedrich Ernst Ludwig von (Fedor Bogdanovic) Fischer and Carl Anton (Andreevič) von Meyer in Index Seminum in 1838. The title is much longer but that is the short version.
The genus, Echium Tourn ex L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. He used a previous description by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort and gave him credit for naming the plant.
There are many AWESOME species of Echium that would make any gardener drool! Plants of the World Online lists 68 species (as of when this age was updated on 1-22-21). It is a member of the plant family Boraginaceae with 153 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
Annie’s Annuals and Perennials offers several species and cultivars available species.
Echium amoenum (Red Feathers) is a 2010 introduction from Plant Select. Plant Select is a collaboration of the Colorado State University and the Denver Botanical Gardens that seek out the best plants for western gardens.
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I bought my Echium amoenum in the spring of 2013 from Ron Hort, an Ebay seller from Arkansas. I had ordered plants from him when I lived in Mississippi and was very pleased. It already had a flower, so it was getting off to a good start. They did very well through the summer and produced a lot of flower spikes about 20″ tall. The long, narrow lanced shaped leaves are somewhat fuzzy. This plant is considered a tender perennial or biennial. Although early deadheading will encourage continuous flowering, a few should be left for reseeding. I’m not sure if Red Feathers is a common name or a cultivar name.
Besides needing to deadhead the flowers, the Echium amoenum is a very maintenance-free plant. They are drought tolerant and need little extra watering through hot, dry summers.
This plant is a native of northern Iran and the Caucasus Mountains. It is used as a medicinal herb there and is called Gol Gavzaban which translates to cow-tongue flower for the hairy surface of the leaves. The genus name is from the Greek word “echion” with the root word “echis” which means viper. The name could come from the seed resembling a viper’s head. It could also be from the species Echium vulgare, commonly known as Viper’s Bugloss which was a remedy for the adder’s bite. My thanks to San Marcos Growers for that information.
The above photo is what it looks like after the flowers fade, Pretty neat, huh?
Origin: Iran, Transcaucasus
Zones: USDA Zones 3-9° F
Size: 12-16” tall x 6-10” wide
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Average, well-drained
Water: Moderate, drought tolerant
Flowers: Red flowers May-frost
The Echium amoenum did very well but didn’t flower that much. The Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar) could have given it a little too much shade because I went really wild in 2013.
Although I mulched over the winter of 2013, my Echium amoenum did not come back up in the spring of 2014. They are cold hardy in USDA zones 3a-9b, so I am not sure why they didn’t return. Maybe someday I will try it again.
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