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Bugloss Anchusa capensis

Phonetic Spelling
an-CUE-sa ka-PEN-sis
Description

Common bugloss is a vigorous biennial in the Boraginaceae (borage) family native to South Africa.  The genus Anchusa is from the Greek word anchousa, which makes reference to its use as a dye base for cosmetic paint obtained from the roots of another plant in the genus Anchusa tinctoria. The species capensis translates to ‘from the Cape’ referring to South Africa.

The erect stems grow 1 to 2 feet tall and are used as an annual adding knock-out blue color to any landscape. New growth on the stems is a bright red adding interest to the plant along with the bright blue flowers that appear from early to late summer.  Beneficial insects like butterflies and bees visit the flowers for nectar.

It tolerates hot sites with, poor dry soil but does best in rich moist soil with good drainage. Prefers full sun but tolerates part shade.   Fertilize it lightly or leaf growth is encouraged at the expense of blooms.  The coarse bright green foliage can be sheared back about 3 inches after each flowering cycle to encourage a second bloom, though use caution as the rough leaves can irritate the skin.  It self-sows in mild winter areas and can become quite weedy.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Very few pests or diseases.  In some areas of the county it is invasive or on watch lists.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blue Angel'
    Gentian blue flowers all summer
  • 'Blue Bird'
    Taller, indigo flowers
'Blue Angel', 'Blue Bird'
Tags:
#vigorous#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#annuals#biennial#wildlife plant#weedy#edible flowers#nectar plant#high maintenance#moist soil#fast growing#aggressive#well-drained soil#red stems#self-seeding#edible leaves#flowers mid-summer#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#rough leaves#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#container plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blue Angel'
    Gentian blue flowers all summer
  • 'Blue Bird'
    Taller, indigo flowers
'Blue Angel', 'Blue Bird'
Tags:
#vigorous#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#annuals#biennial#wildlife plant#weedy#edible flowers#nectar plant#high maintenance#moist soil#fast growing#aggressive#well-drained soil#red stems#self-seeding#edible leaves#flowers mid-summer#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#rough leaves#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#container plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Anchusa
    Species:
    capensis
    Family:
    Boraginaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The flowers have been used for dyes or medicinally for inflammation, ulcers, and abrasions.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South Africa
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar attracts bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators.
    Edibility:
    Flowers can be added to salads and leaves are also edible.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 10 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit is a schizocarp, splitting into chambers containing a single seed each
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Red buds open to small very showy blue flowers which appear on the top half of 18" tall stalks in cymes from early summer to late summer. Flowers have 5, bright blue petals and 5, feathery white scales in the center, protecting the stigma and anthers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Description:
    Sand papery basal green leaves can be eaten like spinach.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Thick at the bottom thining toward the tips, new growth often a striking red.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Weedy