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Woundwort draws attention with unusual flowers

Garden Gems: Cyprian woundwort may have a funny name, but it adds silver luster to the low-water landscape.
Garden Gems: Cyprian woundwort may have a funny name, but it adds silver luster to the low-water landscape.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Cyprian woundwort

Sideritis cypria

Size: Up 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

Bloom season: Tall stems with unusual green and yellow blooms in mid-spring.

Exposure: Full sun.

Pruning needs: Tip pinch when young to promote branching.

Water needs: Low; once established, water deeply once a month.

Snapshot: This unusual perennial looks like it was created by Dr. Seuss. Native to the Mediterranean, it was used to treat wounds (hence its nickname) and offers attractive fuzzy, silver leaves on a compact bush year round. “But the flowers are really interesting,” said Ellen Zagory of the UC Davis Arboretum. “They look like upside-down rain chains, bright green cups strung on a stem with little yellow flowers spilling out of each cup. People stop and stare at this plant, it’s so different.” Those flower stalks appear in mid-spring and can reach 30 inches tall. Pollinators like them, too. Woundwort needs little water once established but demands sun and good drainage.

For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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