Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Pulmonaria Officinalis ‘Bowles’ Blue’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch


Pulmonaria officinalis 'Bowles' Blue' Flower (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Pulmonaria officinalis 'Bowles' Blue' Flower (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Position: Partial sun to full shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 25cm

Eventual Spread: 40cm

Hardiness: 3a -9a

Family: Boraginaceae

Pulmonaria officinalis ‘Bowles’ Blue’ is a small, spreading, semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial. Its mid green basal like leaves are cordate, simple, and have rounded pale green/ silver spots. Their upper surface is quite hairy. Its blue flowers are 5 petaled and lobed, with a tubular corolla and 5 stamens and are produced in small bunches. The fruit is a dry 1-4 seeded drupe or nutlet. The roots are rhizomes which aid the spread of this plant.

The species Pulmonaria officinalis, commonly known as Lungwort or Common Lungwort, is native to Europe. It is said to be the most widespread plant in Europe. However, it is naturalised and not native to the UK. In its native habitat it occurs in deciduous woodlands.

The etymological root of the binomial name Pulmonaria is derived from the Latin pulmo ‘lungs’ in reference to its historic use. Officinalis is derived from the Latin meaning ‘of the apothecaries’. ’Bowles’ Blue’ is named after Edward Augustus Bowles (1865-1954), a botanist.

Pulmonaria officinalis 'Bowles' Blue' (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

Pulmonaria officinalis 'Bowles' Blue' (11/03/2012, Kew, London)

The landscape architect may find Pulmonaria officinalis ‘Bowles’ Blue’ useful in woodland setting or as understory ground cover as it can tolerate full shade. The plant may die back in hot dry periods and will recover when the temperature falls. This species is more prone to mildew than other Pulmonaria.

Ecologically, P. officinalis ‘Bowles’ Blue’ is attractive to bees, bumblebees, butterflies and pollinating insects. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of some moths.

P. officinalis ‘Bowles’ Blue’ prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, including chalky.

P. officinalis ‘Bowles’ Blue’ requires little maintenance. Large clumps may be lifted and divided in autumn.

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