Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Giant Viper’s-Bugloss and Natural Navigation

Giant Viper’s-Bugloss, Echium pininana, is a tall flowering plant in the borage family, native to La Palma in the Canary Islands.

It shows a strong preference for growing towards the south-east.

Many flowering plants show a preference for growing towards southern light – in the northern hemisphere this is where most of the sun’s energy comes from.

It also makes them more visible to the pollinating insects.

The flowers themselves also orient towards the southern light, although the exact angle of orientation varies by species. It can be influenced by the time of day that pollinating insects that visit each plant are most active.

A flower will do better to face south-east to attract insects in the morning and to face south-west for those that are busy in the afternoon.

Some flowers track the sun, facing south-east in the morning and south-west later in the day, a botanical effect known as heliotropism.

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