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John Grimshaw (2021)
Grimshaw, J.M. (2021), 'Erinacea anthyllis' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
A dwarf, much-branched, stiff, spiny shrub usually under 30 cm tall. The branches are erect, terminating in sharp spines. The leaves are inconspicuous, with a single narrowly oblanceolate leaflet (occasionally 3), 5 mm long, and a short petiole. Flowers 1–3 in axillary clusters, below the level of the spines; calyx inflated-campanulate, bilabiate, with two teeth on the upper lip and three on the lower, silky-hairy, enclosing 2/3 of the corolla; corolla typically pea-like, 16–18 mm long, softly blue-purple. Legume narrowly oblong, 12–20 mm, with 1–6 seeds. Flowering April-May. (Bean 1981; Tutin et al. 1968).
Distribution France eastern Pyrenees Morocco middle Atlas Spain south and east
Habitat Rocky mountain slopes, usually on calcareous rock, to 2000 m.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7-9
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
The very well-named Hedgehog Broom was described by Farrer (1919) as a ‘beautiful wee shrub, whose unfriendliness to the touch reserves such an amiable surprise for the eyes’. The plant forms a dense tuft of hard sharp prickles, transformed to great beauty when covered by its lavender flowers - though they are always well-protected by the spines. In the wild it can cover large areas in these spiky hummocks, for example alongside the road from Granada to the Pico de Veleta ski area in the Sierra Nevada, which makes it easy to experience the botanical richness of the Andalucian mountains.
In cultivation it is a dwarf shrub for a very sunny, very well-drained position on a rock garden, or similar bright, warm position where it will not be shaded by other plants, but it is perfectly cold hardy outside in Britain. Bean (1981) recorded that ‘It thrives and seeds itself at Belhaven House, E. Lothian [Scotland]’, which is very unusual. Otherwise it can be propagated by cuttings or layers, or by seed if available. it appears to have been in cultivation in England by 1759 (Bean 1981), but inevitably has never been widely grown. It seems improbable that it would thrive in a hot, humid environment.
Erinacea anthyllis subsp. schoenenbergeri Raynaud from Tunisia has pink flowers, but is not known to be in cultivation.