Thanks once again to Jim, aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr of San Francisco, California for sharing his excellent plant photographs (original image 1 | original image 2 | BPotD Flickr Pool). Appreciated, as always.
High on my list of plants to see in the wilds of California is this southern California / Baja California endemic. I first encountered woolly blue curls in cultivation at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden last year and was immediately smitten by its colours and structure (more photographs at this link).
Lanatum means “woolly”, and the relevance of the epithet should be obvious in this case. Also understandable is one of the alternative common names: romero, in reference to its rough resemblance to rosemary, an appellation deeded by early Spanish explorers of California. The taxon was later described scientifically by George Bentham from collections of plants by the western North American explorer, David Douglas.
Two excellent articles about Trichostema lanatum can be read for more information. “Romero or Woolly Blue Curls” from the newsletter of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance provides a thorough account of the taxon. For those with access to the online journal, you can also read Trichostema lanatum from Curtis’ Botanical Magazine, Vol. 25, Issue 2, pp 158-167, by Harlan Lewis.