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An evergreen well-branched shrub 11⁄2 to 3 ft high; young shoots four-angled, downy. Leaves dark green, opposite, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. wide linear in main outline, but regularly cut on each side into round-ended teeth halfway or more to the midrib, dull green and downy beneath. Main flower-stem 3 to 12 in. long, slender, square in cross-section, downy, bearing at the top a spike, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, of densely packed flowers. A conspicuous and ornamental feature of the head of flowers is the lavender-blue bracts which are ovate or diamond-shaped, often three-lobed, pointed, strongly veined and downy. The base of the flowers themselves is hidden by these bracts, the exposed part of the corolla being about 1⁄4 in. wide, five-lobed, pale lavender-blue; they are lavender scented but not very strongly so. Bot. Mag., t. 400.
Native of Spain and the Mediterranean region, often in arid situations; also of the Atlantic islands, Abyssinia, Arabia, etc. It occurs on the Rock of Gibraltar. It was cultivated in Gerard’s time (1597); he writes of it and L. stoechas: ‘We have them in our gardens and keep them with great diligence from the injury of our cold climate, covered in winter or grown in pots and carried into houses.’ It prefers a climate like that of the Scilly Isles; in cooler parts elsewhere a sheltered sunny corner is needed for it, giving it protection in frosty weather. Even then it succumbs in hard winters. It is easily distinguished from other lavenders by its narrow much-toothed leaves which give it a charming appearance. It belongs to the section Stoechas but the sterile bracts of the ‘coma’ are shorter than in L. stoechas and L. pedunculata and not so markedly different from the fertile bracts (i.e., those subtending the flowers). The foliage has a pleasant aromatic scent only faintly suggestive of lavender. Blooms from July onwards.