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This is a charming, if dangerous group of plants that form dense spiny silver buns.  Perfect domes.  You just want to pet them.  Don't.  They are very sharp.  In the spring they send up stalks of tiny pink flowers.  The flowers dry in place after the springtime bloom, leaving decorative stalks that look like they are covered with tiny parasols.

It is indicative of my personality type that I have a thing for prickly plants.  And oh, these guys really fit the bill.  The mounds are so perfect, and look so pettable.  And they are not. These guys HAVE to be deer resistant, although I have not tested it.  They seem to be reasonably gopher resistant for us as well. On very bad gopher years, I occasionally lose a plant.  The gophers only eat the roots. 

The Acantholimon are not usually considered easy garden plants.  But I suspect that is because they are not tolerant of excess water. Several of them have done very well for us, with almost no care.  Place them on a mound, a berm, a slope.  Give them a gravel mulch,  and don't water them much in the summer. We have several species in the front growing in an isolated part of the garden that does not have an irrigation system.  I am supposed to water it by hand in the summer.  I usually forget. They have thrived there with water as infrequent as once a month.

They are not difficult from seed, just sow thickly as some of the seed is not viable.  We grew most of ours from European seed lists, but they are also available through the NARGS seed exchange. We have grown many species through the years. They tend to forms spiny and intimidating mounds over the labels, and it is just too dangerous to try to dig around and figure out where the label is. Consequently, I am not sure which species we still have in the garden.  

As a genus, they are distributed through southeastern Europe and central Asia. Most of the ones we have grown have been from Turkey. 

  • Full sun
Native to
SE Europe and central Asia