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Photo: Rachel Cobb

Unearthly-looking Sapphire Tower (Puya alpestris) now in Bloom at San Diego Botanic Garden

This South American wonder will continue to flower for about 2 more weeks

Encinitas CA— Characterized by unearthly, metallic-looking, deep turquoise blooms, that are punctuated by bright orange anthers, the Puya alpestris, commonly known as the Sapphire Tower, looks like nothing else in the plant world.

Photo: Rachel Cobb

This striking flower that often causes visitors to say ‘Is this REAL?’ is now in bloom at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. A native plant of South America, this Chilean species is a member of the pineapple family, with flowers measuring 2” across with a number of them blooming up an 18” spike (or tower) over a 2-3 week time frame.

This year, there are two different Garden areas that our Sapphire Towers are in bloom. One is located in the South American Desert Garden, the other is in our Australia Garden. According to former Horticulture Director Dave Ehrlinger, these specimens were most likely planted by Ruth Larabee, former owner of the property that now houses more than 4,000 species of plants in 29 uniquely themed gardens over 37 acres.