A deciduous, semi-woody plant 3 to 5 ft high, with a sage-like odour; branches long, stiffly erect, covered with a white, close down. Leaves opposite, 1 to 2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 1 in. wide, rhomboidal or slightly obovate, tapered at both ends, coarsely toothed, grey-green and slightly downy; stalk 1⁄12 to 1⁄3 in. long. Panicles terminal, 9 to 12 in. long, produced in August and September, and composed of numerous slender, opposite, leafless spikes, 2 to 5 in. long. Flowers beautiful violet-blue, 1⁄3 in. long, produced in whorls; corolla two-lipped, tubular at the base with a five-lobed spreading limb 1⁄3 in. across; calyx shaggy with white hairs. The whole inflorescence is covered like the stem with a white, powder-like down, which brings the colour of the blossoms into greater prominence. Bot. Mag., t. 8441.
Native of the W. Himalaya and Afghanistan. It covers large areas in the Chitral Valley, to the exclusion of other vegetation. Although woody at the base, the stems made during the summer die back considerably during winter. It should be planted in good soil, in a group of at least half a dozen plants, and makes a pretty effect in late summer. A heat-lover, it should have the sunniest position available. The plants should be pruned over in spring, cutting off the dead portion and perhaps a little more. It is easily propagated by cuttings in early June by taking young shoots when they are 2 or 3 in. long. Seed is rarely produced in this country.
There is a group of P. atriplicifolia in the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley, on the dry wall by the entrance.
cv. ‘Blue Spire’. – A particularly fine variant of P. atriplicifolia, with distinct foliage. The uppermost leaves are narrowly elliptic-oblong and pinnately lobulate, the lower ones up to 2 in. long, cut more than half-way to the midrib into lobes which are themselves lobulate. It is of upright habit, to about 3 ft high, and bears its flowers in large panicles. It has been suggested that ‘Blue Spire’ is a hybrid between P. atriplicifolia and P. abrotanoides. But in the Kew Herbarium there are specimens from Kashmir and Lahul (where P. abrotanoides does not occur) which, though they lack the lower leaves, seem to agree quite well with ‘Blue Spire’. It was distributed under its present name by Messrs. Notcutt and received an Award of Merit when exhibited by them on August 28, 1963. It came originally from Germany as P. atriplicifolia erecta.
P. abrotanoides Karelin P. atriplicifolia sens. Hook. f. in Fl. Brit. Ind., Vol. IV, p. 652, not Benth. – Allied to P. atriplicifolia but stems with a thinner indumentum which tends to wear off, leaves deeply incised, often to the midrib, the segments sometimes linear and entire, more often themselves pinnately dissected. Native of Russia (Turkmenia and Tianshan), Iran, and Baluchistan; introduced to Kew before 1935 from Iran. It can be grown in situations that suit P. atriplicifolia, but really needs more summer heat. It is much less common in gardens.