Named as long ago as 1854 and spread from S.Turkey across Syria, Israel to Iraq and Iran. This is a very large and robust making huge flower stems for the genus.
Beautiful broad foliage sits below a flower spike that extends gradually, it just keeps coming and coming. It may eventually be as much as 8cm wide and 30cm long.
The flowers themselves are pale caramel with an ink-dipped mouth. The buds are a brighter shade of imperial purple and merge gradually into the spike of mature flowers. The small terminal tuft is also purple, in a species in which the display of fertile flowers is so very impressive.
A diploid species and perhaps the most striking species f the genus for horticulturalists, this needs very good drainage and not too much water, lots of sun and a dry summer rest. It is not difficult, perhaps a bit fussy but if you want to grow middle-eastern desert plants, a few compromises are sometimes needed!
Photo by Gideon Pisanty. Image used, with thanks, under the GNU Free Documentation License.