Dan Hinkley's garden at Windcliff
Cost of coffee

Trachystemon - why it is called Abraham, Isaac and Joseph?

Trachystemon orientale - ground cover also known as Abraham, Isaac and Joseph. Image:©GardenPhotos.com If you're looking for a robust perennial ground cover that will even thrive in dry shade look no further than Trachystemon oriantale. Its mass of foliage does the weed smothering efficiently and its purple blue flowers are a treat in the spring sunshine. Its mass of roots also make it a great plant for holding together the soil on slopes.

But why is its common name Abraham, Isaac and Joseph? I'd really like to know. If you've any idea, pleae post a comment. Thank you!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I believe the correct name would be "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob".

In any case, http://www.ukwildflowers.com/Web_pages/trachystemon_orientalis_abraham_isaac_jacob.htm indicates that it is a common name that has also been used for Pulmonaria and Symphytum, in all three cases because the flowers changed colours as they aged.

Graham Rice

I agree that "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" is far more logical and if I'd looked in my own encyclopedia I would have found that out!! I was just bewidered by the reference I came across in someone else's book. (I won't reveal who as they obviously made a silly slip.)

Mike Grant

I read somewhere (I can't remember where) that it was to do with the flower colours being red, white & blue (red on fading), which would also tie in with Pulmonaria and Symphytum. But I've got no idea how those colours relate to those three characters.

Graham Rice

But I don't think Trachystemon has flowers which change colour like that. Obviously there are no flowers to examine in November but Masha Bennett's book on the borage family simply says "purplish-blue". Or perhaps she and I are both wrong. Have no fear, I'll return to this vital topic of fundamental international botanical significance in the spring!


I believe the connection is simply that by being able to see a cluster with three differently coloured flowers, side by side, one might have said, "Look, there's Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", or in other words, three generations side by side, the older flower possibly looking a little less fresh than the younger. ;)

Graham Rice

Yes, Mark, seems very reasonable - thanks.

The comments to this entry are closed.