Vancouver Park Board says rare Snow Tower tree blooming in city park

VANCOUVER — A tree described as one of the true giants of the herbaceous plant world is bringing some tropical warmth to British Columbia.

The Vancouver Park Board says a plant native to the Canary Islands and rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park.

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The tree echium, also known as snow tower, produces white flowers on a spike up to 4.5-metres high, but horticulturalists say the blooms will only last about two months.

A news release from the park board says staff acquired some seeds from the endangered plant about two year and nurtured the plant from the seedlings.

The park board says common names for the stunning plant range from tower of jewels, to pine echium and even giant viper's bugloss.

Whatever the name, park board chairman Stuart Mackinnon expects the exotic, beautiful and very tall plants will excite plant lovers.

"Flower buds will continue to unfurl and expand over the bloom phase, making the flower stalk wider and more impressive over time," Mackinnon says in the release.

The snow tower is expected to continue flowering into June before completing its life cycle and then dying.

The park board has also acquired seeds of several other varieties of echium that aren't as tall as the snow tower but are considered just as lovely.

Tree echiums with blue flowers are already growing in another part of Queen Elizabeth Park, in Morton Park near the Laughing Men statues in downtown Vancouver and at the entrance to VanDusen Botanical Garden on Vancouver's west side.

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