Pride of Madeira

Echium candicans

Its name “Echium candicans” comes from the Greek “echis” which is the name for the viper, referring to its fruiting body, whose protruding forked style recalls the forked tongue of a viper.


The plant is endemic to the island of Madeira.

Species characteristics

Family: Borraginaceae

Origin: Madeira

Habitat: Dry and coastal areas

Characteristics: The pride of Madeira is an ornamental plant of incredible beauty. This biennial, which forms large tufts of silver-grey leaves, is topped with large erect spikes of purple-blue flowers in March.In one season this strong-growing plant can reach 1.5 to 2 metres in height and a spread of 2 metres or more.
Its flowers are nectar-bearing.

Flowering period: Spring

Uses and properties: The pride of Madeira is cultivated as an ornamental plant. The Echiums are dry area plants. So they appreciate rather poor and dry soils. They need a lot of sun and can handle the wind well. The shores of the Mediterranean are a favourable habitat for their growth because they put up with sea-spray well.

History and oddities

Echiums are commonly called “viperines” in France. They do not harbour vipers within them but the shape of each of the 4 parts of the fruit recalls the head of the snake. The forked style emerging from the corolla also suggests the language of the animal. This “signature” has earned the plant the belief that it neutralises the venom of these reptiles, but this is not true.