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Moltkia suffruticosa (L.) Brand

Modern name

Moltkia suffruticosa (L.) Hegi


Pulmonaria suffruticosa L.; M. graminifolia (Viv.) Nyman; Lithospermum graminifolium Viv.

A low, semi-evergreen shrub of tufted habit 6 to 18 in. high when in flower; young shoots, leaves, flower-stalks, and calyx all covered with appressed silky grey hairs. Leaves linear, pointed, the basal ones up to 412 in. long, 18 in. or less wide, those of the flowering stems 1 to 2 in. long, silvery beneath. Flowers borne at the top of a leafy stalk 4 to 8 in. high in a branched pendulous cluster 1 to 212 in. wide; they are blue with a tinge of purple (pink in the bud state), about 12 in. long; calyx-lobes linear, stamens about as long as the corolla or rather shorter. The branches of the inflorescence often curve outwards and have the flowers set on the top, as is common in the borage family. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 394.

Native of Italy; put into commerce by Messrs Backhouse of York in 1888. H. Correvon in The Gardener’s Chronicle (2 April 1910), p. 212, writes:

‘I was once ascending Monte Summano, near Vicenza, when my eyes were suddenly arrested by a slope covered with a glorious azure of blue flowers. Judge my surprise when I recognized an old friend in Lithospermum graminifolium. It seemed as if the whole mountain were covered with it.’

The plant is essentially one for a sunny place in the rock garden. M. petraea is easily distinguished from it by its shorter, comparatively broader leaves and well exposed stamens.

There are hybrids between M. suffruticosa and M. petraea, for which the correct name is M. × intermedia (Froebel) J. Ingram. The typical form of the cross (‘Intermedia’) inclines to M. suffruticosa in its leaves, while in M. × intermedia ‘Froebelii’ the leaves are shorter, more like those of M. petraea.



Other species in the genus