Eritrichium howardii

Submitted by Kelaidis on

Somehow it seems wrong that no one has posted on this rather important little genus...

I don't have pictures of Eritrichium pauciflorum on this computer...I will post on that some time. It was the universal forget me not of the Mongolian mountains that grew by the thousands in all manner of turf and meadows, screes and tundra..I did get quite a bit of seed of it and shared it with some alpine nurseries. I have a fantasy it will be an easy alpine.

But for us in Denver, Eritrichium howardii is the one of choice: up by Choteau and here and there on the Great Plains of Montana (in a climate very similar to Denver) this grows thickly in the sparse grasses. Roy Davidson wrote of one locality where it was virtually the only thing growing for miles where cattle were browsing: he wondered if it was their fodder?

This clump has graced this trough for almost ten years, petering out a bit one year, and coming back the next. It has produced a finer display of bloom, but this is all I have on hand right you must settle for it!


Submitted by Peter George on Sun, 05/30/2010 - 18:28

I grew two plants from seed a few years ago, and after I planted them out, they overwintered and flowered the next year, and then came 19 days of rain. They didn't survive. The next year I placed seed directly in the open garden, and this year, three years later, I have 3 rather nice little plants which have bulked up considerably but which don't show any indications of flowering yet. Having survived two winters, I'm optimistic that I'll get some flowers next summer. It's a beautiful plant and flower, and one we don't see very often here in New England.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Sun, 05/30/2010 - 21:52

If it's made it three years for you, it's a keeper. This is usually a Great Plains species that has to put up with great extremes (including periods of wetness). The plant in the picture has persisted over ten years for me...this is the Eritrichium for gardens: I've collected seed in the wild but never seen it in full glory. A friend in Montana just sent me pictures (it's blooming there now)...wouldn't that be fun!

Submitted by Boland on Mon, 05/31/2010 - 16:28

I grew these from NARGS seed this year...ended up with Lindelofia longifolia!  Oh well, at least its in the same family...but really, how could a person mistake one for the other?!

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 06/01/2010 - 12:33

I dunno, Todd... the darnedest things can happen in seed exchanges and trades! 
I bought a little locally grown E. howardii at last year's alpine plant sale and it bloomed modestly in a trough this spring.

Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 06/02/2010 - 21:57

Since Panayoti mentioned it in his initial message, perhaps it's apropos to show some seedlings of Eritrichium pauciflorum ssp. sajanense, grown this spring?

The seeds were from Pavelka, and the provenance and plants described as follows:  "2000m, Sajan Mts., Russia; dwarf compact cushions, silvery-grey leaves, big blue flowers on scapes 4-10cm, stoney slopes, 2007 seed".  Germination was delayed in room temp conditions, so I chucked them in the cold room for a month, after which there was good germination.  Here are a couple of them snuggled into the new tufa bed.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Thu, 06/03/2010 - 05:17

Very interesting, Lori: just realized I collected a ton of seed and shared it with several growers and need to check up on my own seedpots...

Submitted by Peden on Sat, 07/07/2012 - 09:27

Photo taken at end of June 2012 in my garden. The seed of this Eritrichium was collected just south and east of Ima Mine, above Patterson Creek, Idaho, on cold alpine tundra in 2009. The leaf blade appears to be narrow as in E. howardii, but, from my general observation, unlike the broader blade of E. aretioides as it is found on other mountain ranges (Bighorn;Wallowa). The cushion in nature is extremely congested. There appear to be flower buds: This plant already seems preparded for winter which won't come here for another five months! The second photo of the same plant was taken earlier in the season.


Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 08/19/2012 - 09:25

Here's Eritrichium howardii, bought from Beaver Creek this spring and (seemingly) happily ensconced in the tufa garden... so far, so good.  :D

Submitted by Mark McD on Sun, 08/19/2012 - 15:04

Fine looking small cushion there, with howardii-esque looking narrow silver foliage.  I bet (and hope) you'll be showing us photos of this plant in flower next year.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 08/19/2012 - 18:13

I hope so too.  The one I mentioned earlier that I had in a trough has since expired...  :rolleyes:

Submitted by Peden on Tue, 08/21/2012 - 17:07

Here's my best E. howardii right now. Now to tune in to precise flowering conditions; collect tons of seed and start a strain that is resistant to pestilence and is easy to grow.

I pictured this one a few weeks back. I'm surprised how well it is handling our climate. It was snowing in August when I collected the seed (Lemhi Mountains)! Any flowers that were forming aborted.

This one was grown from seed collected in the Wallowa Mountains in 2009. The Wallowa population produces lovely proportioned and large cushions, for the genus. It's a very pretty plant. It shares a wide leaf blade and hairiness with the next. The second photo was taken in April.

This one was collected in the Bighorn Mountains in 2009. This eastern form is the hairyest I know of. The rosettes are large but the tufts are small and parched looking even in habitat. It grows on west/southwest facing shale slopes that likely don't collect a lot of snow. The second photo was taken in April.

I hope to post all of these in glorious flower next year!

Submitted by cohan on Sun, 08/26/2012 - 12:51

Great bunch, Michael- very nice to see the variations!

Submitted by Peden on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 07:40

Here's a mid December 2012 update on the Eritrichiums in the garden I posted previously; Eritrichium howardii (same age as others -2009 seed); E. ex Lemhi Mountains; E. ex Wallowa Mountains; and E. ex Bighorn Mountains.


Michael Peden, Dec. 6, 2012

Submitted by Mark McD on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 09:37

Michael, wonderful photos (and plants), in both seasons shown, but I am drawn to the fall/winter forms of plants as they prepare themselves for hibernation. Congrats on your success growing these treasures.

Submitted by Longma on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 09:53

Fantastic Michael,  :o :o

Thoroughly enjoyed seeing your posts.

Submitted by cohan on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 12:11

So much variation, Michael! Worth growing just for the foliage forms...

Submitted by Lori S. on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 15:08

Looks like I forgot to return to this thread to post what Eritrichium pauciflorum ssp. sajanense looks like in bloom, so here it is.  Two seedlings in different conditions; there is repeat bloom throughout the season.

Submitted by cohan on Sat, 12/08/2012 - 00:17

Does sajanense indicate a Russian species/form?

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 12/08/2012 - 09:37

Yes, presumably.  The seeds were collected by Pavelka at 2000m in the Sajan Mts., Russia, according to his catalogue.

Submitted by cohan on Sat, 12/08/2012 - 19:00

That's where I recognised the name Sajan from. lol- don't recall hearing of those mountains until looking at seedlists!

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 12/10/2012 - 02:47

Isn't the correct spelling in English Sayan? The Russian spelling is Саяны, and the letter я should be ya in English (ja in Norwegian though ;) )

Seems to be a remote place anyway.

Submitted by cohan on Mon, 12/10/2012 - 12:29

I don't know, Trond- I only know it from Czech seed lists!
A very quick google search, and Britannica says: 'Sayan Mountains, also spelled Sajan or Saian' so I guess however you spell it, the pronunciation would be more english y than j..  this is an occasional habit in modern english- to keep non-english spelling, leading to great confusion for pronunciation

Mostly I consider this name a good sign, since I figure if plants are from mountains in Russia, they have a good chance of being hardy enough here!

Submitted by Brian_W on Tue, 12/11/2012 - 14:31


E. howardii is one of the most common plants where I live in Western Montana.  Virtually every limestone outcrop is covered with them.

Submitted by Weiser on Tue, 12/11/2012 - 18:07

Lovely photos Lori, Michael and Brian!!

To see them is to want them and I do!! :)

Submitted by Lori S. on Tue, 12/11/2012 - 20:03

Wow, fantastic, Brian!  Sounds like it is as common there as Myosotis asiatica (a similar colour at least) is here!

Hoy wrote:

Isn't the correct spelling in English Sayan? The Russian spelling is Саяны, and the letter я should be ya in English (ja in Norwegian though ;) )

I dunno, Trond.  The Plant List (if you like it or any of the other taxonomic efforts out there!) does show it as Eritrichium pauciflorum ssp. sajanense... but says it's a synonym of Eritrichium villosum

Submitted by Hoy on Wed, 12/12/2012 - 11:34

Lori, the name of the plant is one thing, the English name of the mountain another ;D

Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 12/12/2012 - 18:44

Yes, Trond.  I see what you're saying:

cohan wrote:

A very quick google search, and Britannica says: 'Sayan Mountains, also spelled Sajan or Saian'...

I didn't even think to check that, I just referred to the collection locale as it was written in the seed list ("Sajan").  Geography is definitely not my strong suit!!

Submitted by RickR on Wed, 12/12/2012 - 22:48

Hoy wrote:

Lori, the name of the plant is one thing, the English name of the mountain another ;D

So true:
omeiensis, omeiena, emeisensis, emeiensis ...
koreana, coreana, koraiensis ...

Submitted by cohan on Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:23

Hoy wrote:

Lori, the name of the plant is one thing, the English name of the mountain another ;D

As you can see from my post above, you can call it just about anything you want in English  ;D

Brian- wonderful! I hope we'll be seeing a lot more of your natives :)

Submitted by Hoy on Thu, 12/13/2012 - 13:21

I came to think about something - do you say you speak English or Canadian in Canada? (Not talking about French . . . )  ;)

I have to say something of the Eritrichiums too! They are very beautiful plants, like some refined form of forgetmenot. However I have never tried to grow any assuming they'll dislike the humid climate here.

Submitted by cohan on Thu, 12/13/2012 - 19:09

There are occasions when we need to specify what sort of English, since we do of course have some different usage than U.S., various parts of Britain, Aus, NZ etc, so then we will specify Canadian English, but normally we just say English...

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Sat, 12/22/2012 - 06:08

Pictured is Eritrichium howardii, which manages to get through our winters OK.  It will never look as it does in the wild. but the great news is that it seeded itself into a piece of tufa, where it has persisted for three years but has yet to flower.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 12/22/2012 - 15:36

It looks wonderful, Anne, and self-seeding yet too.  :o

Submitted by Peden on Fri, 02/01/2013 - 07:32

January 31, 2013 update on Eritrichiums here. A day of record warmth for the date here (55F.) has melted all the snow that was covering these. E. howardii is showing full normal winter dormancy. There's probably some significance to the few yellow leaves. The dormant growing point appears purplish and the outer foliage is obviously dead. The Lemhi Mountains plant remains largely green. The Bighorn Mountains plant pictured has changed little since December despite its respite under the snow. Ditto the Wallowa Mountains plant (not shown).

Submitted by RickR on Fri, 02/01/2013 - 09:07

So nice to document these differences, Michael!

Do they all have the same exposure?

Submitted by Peden on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 04:19

Eritrichium howardii (my garden) in late March 2013. They grow well in cool weather. It appears as if the flower buds begin in spring on these as opposed to fall, but I don't really know.

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 07:25

I think you're right, Michael.  I've never noticed any bud-forming in the fall.  Your plants looks really good.  Follow-up pictures, please.

Submitted by Peden on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 13:58

Spiegel wrote:

I think you're right, Michael.  I've never noticed any bud-forming in the fall.  Your plants looks really good.  Follow-up pictures, please.

Yes, Anne, of course! I was out there just a minute ago and there has already been change in the plant since morning. I love rock gardening!

Submitted by Merlin on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 20:36

I used to grow E. howardii in a pot but have since focused on growing it in the open garden. we are a few weeks away from the garden plants flowering but here is one in a pot.

Submitted by Mikkelsen on Thu, 03/28/2013 - 21:36

Brian_W wrote:


E. howardii is one of the most common plants where I live in Western Montana.  Virtually every limestone outcrop is covered with them.

Fantastic!  What a glorious gem!

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 04/27/2013 - 21:56

Eritrichium howardii seems to have wintered over well!

Submitted by Peden on Thu, 05/09/2013 - 17:45

Eritrichium howardii in bloom. I recently fed this African Violet food (high in P) as part of its regime hoping to get a truly pumped up specimen. This may be risky down the line and I'm not sure it makes a big difference on bud set -timing still undetermined.

The Bighorn Mountains plant got the same dose. It actually had two blossoms at about the time I dosed it. Now it is definitely "out of character". I think this not necessarily bad for plants growing in the (relative) greenhouse that is the northeastern garden. Precise conditions/feed will do this wonders but perhaps I won't!

Eritrichium from the Wallowa. No intention of blooming. Ever? Note the minuscule bug at right in the photo: It is a pest of these; eating flowers and perhaps pollen. candy....

Eritrichium  from the Lemhi Mountains: Oops! Hope Y'all didn't go up onto the land of eternal winter in search of the rare Eritrichium with the tiny leaves. The Drabas got me! This wouldn't be the first time a small collection packet (of mine) had more than one species put into it. Good odds that this extremely tiny growing Draba came from up there in August winter.


Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Fri, 05/10/2013 - 09:19

Michael, do keep us up to date on your fertilizing experiment.  I've never had the nerve to try it with this plant.  My big eritrichium news is that E. howardii has made two new seedlings.  I'll try taking a photo with a zoom.  The seedling from two years ago is still there in a piece of tufa but no blooms yet.

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 20:15

Okay, it wintered over and I see lots of buds tucked into those little rosettes... crossing my fingers...  ;)

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Tue, 05/14/2013 - 12:50

Lori, it looks like a winner to be.  Mine didn't flower as well as last year but since it made seedlings it can be forgiven anything.  The others didn't flower at all but look good.

Submitted by Hoy on Fri, 05/17/2013 - 01:29

Seems Eritrichums are the ultimate plant for a dedicated gardener to keep alive during the winter! Then I wont try - not at home anyway - but maybe I'll give them (and me) a chance at my mountain cabin! They are great plants ;)

Submitted by Lori S. on Fri, 05/17/2013 - 20:14

The start of bloom, with many, many more buds to go!  (I'll try not to be too big of a nuisance with these photos...  :D)

Submitted by Mark McD on Fri, 05/17/2013 - 21:34

Awesome Lori, show us again when more flowers open, congratulations!

Submitted by tropicalgirl25… on Fri, 05/17/2013 - 21:57

Hi Lori
great plant grown to such perfection,

Submitted by Lori S. on Fri, 05/17/2013 - 22:30

Evidently, it's found the conditions to its liking so far, at least (though I've only had it a short time).  To answer your question from the other thread, Krish, it's a plant I bought in 2012 from Beaver Creek at the CRAGS plant sale.

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Sat, 05/18/2013 - 09:53

Lori, your E. howardii is lovely.  If you got it from Beaver Creek you're halyway to success, because Roger's plants are always beautifully grown.
I promised Michael I'd take photos of my E. howardii self-sown seedlings.  I'm enormously pleased with them although I didn't do anything.  The first is three years old and was self sown into nearby tufa.  The next two I just noticed this year.  They're near the tufa but not in it.  The mother plants are in the tufa garden but not planted in the tufa itself.  Also self-sowing is Androsace villosa, just proving that if eventually you find a place where the plant is happy, it will do your work for you.

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 02:03

Lori wrote:

The start of bloom, with many, many more buds to go!  (I'll try not to be too big of a nuisance with these photos...  :D)

Don't let my teasing let you down Lori. Please bring as many pictures as you can!
But often when I am on my stomach looking at or photographing these green things my friends (and my wife too) think I am a bit nutty. Sometimes I agree.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 11:23

Not to worry, Trond!  :D  I'm just trying to be a bit selective, rather than posting a picture for every additional flower that opens... I assure you I am taking a picture for every additional flower that opens though.  ;D

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 16:35

That may tax both my photographic and computer skills, Trond.  ???
Here's a photo from this morning though... as I mentioned, lots of buds to come:

Good, strong-looking little seedlings there, Anne.  Yes, any congrats for growing my plant well go to Roger at Beaver Creek, definitely!  (I really haven't "grown" it yet; I just planted it in a place where it seems to be happy so far.)

Submitted by Peden on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 16:38

Anne, they will self seed here too. I have one that I've been watching for a couple of years. It is growing slowly, if at all, and I intend to leave it right where it is! They can be long lived, even here. The plant I previously posted is still putting forth a scattering of bloom and a couple of seedlings (2009 collection) are blooming as well. I'm trying to amp seed set by hand pollinating but not seeing much pollen so will see how that goes. The African Violet food seems working well so far. Lori: great plant and you have the climate and soils. The Bighorn's Eritrichium has grown out around any seed set so I will not be collecting if they are there. I know some plants to do this; Vitaliana is a good example: plenty of seeds but finding them? -not so easy!

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Sun, 05/19/2013 - 17:19

Lori, what wonderful bloom!  And very short stems, too.  I found that mine kept putting out flowers and the first ones lasted a long time, but the stems elongated a little bit. 
Michael, the little seedlings grow very slowly but the one in tufa has made a number of little rosettes after three years.  Still waiting for it to bloom.  Who says gardeners are not patient?

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Mon, 05/27/2013 - 05:11

Sensational. Lori.  Looks to be extremely happy with you.

Submitted by Peden on Thu, 05/30/2013 - 08:30

Eritrichium howardii showing a scattering of new blossoms this morning!


Submitted by Mark McD on Thu, 05/30/2013 - 09:03

What a beautiful sight for a morning garden walk, congratulations Michael and Lori (and Jim and Anne too, looking through earlier posts in this topic) on growing super fine Eritrichium.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 20:55

Looks like your plant is more compact than mine, Michael - looks great!
Still blooming with stems elongating...

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 07:54

Lori, that one looks more like mine with the stems elongating a bit.  If the one that seeded itself in tufa would please bloom I could see if that made a difference. Mine are growing next to but not in, tufa.

Submitted by deesen on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 12:20

Lovely little plant Lori, how does it cope with the winter wet please?

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 22:28

I only planted it in 2012 so it's early days, but I don't believe we really get anything here that you'd recognize as winter wet, David.  It's a pretty dry climate.  We do get a lot of snowfalls and melting (and sublimation) through the winter but no rain.  There's really no standing water ever, and the ground is only sodden for short periods mainly during the spring rains (June). 

Submitted by deesen on Tue, 06/11/2013 - 05:46

Mmm. Thanks for that Lori, little snow and lots of rain are my problems.

Submitted by Peden on Tue, 06/11/2013 - 07:43

Oh.... I posted this photo of it in bloome a few days later on one of the rock garden facebook groups.

PK replied something to the effect that there might be something silly going on over here. The man is spending WAY too much time in the garden  ;)

Submitted by Anne Spiegel on Tue, 06/11/2013 - 15:13

Michael, that is just a fantastic plant.  I've never seen it bloom like that in cultivation.  You're certainly doing something right because the northeast is not an ideal place for these plants.