Chardon Bleu des Alpes
Eryngium alpinum Fr: Chardon Bleu des Alpes
A tall, striking mountain perennial growing to 2 meters tall. It looks quite a bit like a Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), but there's no relation. We've seen this labeled (in English) "Blue Lace", "Sea Holly" and "Alpine Sea Holly" (rather strange name considering that it grows in the Alpes).
This is a protected wildflower in the mountains, not to be picked.
Flower. Bluish-white in dense, prickly-looking umbrels, 2 cm diamete, 4 cm long,
Bract. The ring of feathery bracts surrounding the domed flower-head can be bright blue, violet or white.
Leaves. The basal leaves are 8-15 cm long, deep green and veined. They become more pointed and divided higher on the step, ending in the bracts.
The Chardon bleu des Pyrénées, or Painicaut de Bourget (Eryngium bourgatii) is similar, but growns in the Pyrénées of southwest France.