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Stachys byzantina is often confused with:
Verbascum thapsus Flowers
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis
Salvia yangii Flower Stem
Phlox subulata Phlox subulata

Stachys byzantina

Previously known as:

  • Stachys Lanata
  • Stachys Olympica
Phonetic Spelling
STAH-kees biz-an-TEE-nah
Description

Lamb's ear is a popular silver-leaved herbaceous perennial ground cover in the Lamiaceae or mint family. The plant grows into a dense clump of thick, soft, velvety, silver-green leaves that form a low-spreading groundcover. They are evergreen in warmer climates. In summer, tiny, purplish-pink flowers appear that are best removed to enhance the foliage and to help maintains its compact habit. 

Lamb's ear is a native to the rocky hills of Turkey, Armenia, and Iran. 

The genus name, Stachys, is Greek and comes from a word meaning "ear of corn." The epithet, byzantine, means "of classical Byzantine."

Lamb's ear grows well in average, dry to medium, very well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. Avoid overwatering as wet leaves invite disease, as do high humidity summers. The plant likes some afternoon shade, particularly in the hot summer. It spreads by stems rooting at the nodes and can be aggressive in good conditions. Division of the plant may be required about every 2 to 4 years. The plant is deer resistant and moderately drought tolerant once established.

The leaves are densely white-woolly and oblong to elliptical. They emit a scent when crushed. The flowers are small tubular, 2-lipped, and appear in white woolly upright spikes.

The soft, fuzzy leaves make an excellent addition to a children's or sensory garden.  Plant it along a border front or walkway, or it may also be grown in containers. Consider planting Lamb's ear on a hill or slope in hot humid areas to prevent root rot.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Summer           Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • groundcover with silvery-green leaves
  • the leaves are thick, soft, velvety, oblong-elliptical, woolly, and may be unpleasantly aromatic
  • the basal leaves are in rosettes
  • leaf size varies depending on the cultivar
  • the flowers are purplish-pink, erect, spikes or racemes that bloom in the summer
  • if pollinated, an oblong, brown nutlet is produced

Insects, Disease, and Other Plant Problems: Susceptible to leaf rot with high humidity or excessive rain.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Asian Garden- Zen Garden Backyard Planting Flowers Galore Sea of Daylilies Asian Garden- Zen Garden Patio Garden Backyard Planting
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Big Ears'
    larger leaves
  • 'Cotton Boll'
    flowers resemble cotton balls along the stem, gray-green leaves
  • 'Helene von Stein' (synonymous with 'Big Ears')
    Foliage tolerates summer heat better, rarely flowers
  • 'Primrose Heron'
    pink flowers, yellow leaves in spring
  • 'Silky Fleece'
    lilac-plum flowers, small, white, wooly leaves
  • 'Silver Carpet'
    rarely blooms
  • 'Silver Queen'
  • 'Striped Phantom'
    variegated leaves
'Big Ears', 'Cotton Boll', 'Helene von Stein' (synonymous with 'Big Ears'), 'Primrose Heron', 'Silky Fleece', 'Silver Carpet', 'Silver Queen', 'Striped Phantom'
Tags:
#cultivars#purple#evergreen#deciduous#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#perennials#silver leaves#pink flowers#fragrant leaves#velvety#rabbit resistant#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#playground plant#groundcover#hairy leaves#pollinator plant#fantz#poor soils tolerant#sensory garden#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#perrenial#stormwater demo garden orange co#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#container#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Big Ears'
    larger leaves
  • 'Cotton Boll'
    flowers resemble cotton balls along the stem, gray-green leaves
  • 'Helene von Stein' (synonymous with 'Big Ears')
    Foliage tolerates summer heat better, rarely flowers
  • 'Primrose Heron'
    pink flowers, yellow leaves in spring
  • 'Silky Fleece'
    lilac-plum flowers, small, white, wooly leaves
  • 'Silver Carpet'
    rarely blooms
  • 'Silver Queen'
  • 'Striped Phantom'
    variegated leaves
'Big Ears', 'Cotton Boll', 'Helene von Stein' (synonymous with 'Big Ears'), 'Primrose Heron', 'Silky Fleece', 'Silver Carpet', 'Silver Queen', 'Striped Phantom'
Tags:
#cultivars#purple#evergreen#deciduous#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#perennials#silver leaves#pink flowers#fragrant leaves#velvety#rabbit resistant#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#deer resistant#playground plant#groundcover#hairy leaves#pollinator plant#fantz#poor soils tolerant#sensory garden#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#perrenial#stormwater demo garden orange co#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#container#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Stachys
    Species:
    byzantina
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Krym, Northern Turkey to Northern Iran
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts butterflies
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Textural
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    deer and drought resistant
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Horizontal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • 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 Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Description:
    If the flowers are pollinated, an oblong, hairless brown nutlet may be produced.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The inflorescence is a terminal dense spike and an arrangement of verticillasters. Flowers are sessile, subtended by reduced leaves (foliaceous bracts). Corolla is purple with some mottling internally, bilabiate. Corolla tube is less than 0.5 inches long and pubescent externally. The upper lip is single, shallowly 3-lobed, entire at apex, 0.2 inches long, and less than half an inch broad. Lower lip 3-lobed. Two lateral lobes are shallow, much smaller than the central lobe. They bloom from May to July.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Velvety
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Sinuate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are silvery-green, dense, white woolly, and measure 4 to 6 inches long and 2 to 2.5 inches wide. They are opposite and oblong elliptical. There are 3.5-inch-long stems on lower leaves and appear nearly stemless above. The leaves are acute, tapering to the base, and have crenate margins slightly sinuous. The basal leaves are in rosettes.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Angular
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are erect, branching, four-angled, and up to 20 inches tall. The entire plant is covered with very dense gray lanate pubescence.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Weedy