A sapphire tower plant blooming at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Rachel Cobb

Characterized by unearthly, metallic-looking turquoise blooms punctuated by bright orange anthers, the sapphire tower looks like nothing else in the plant world.

This striking flower that often causes visitors to ask “Is this real?” is now in bloom at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas.

A native of the Chilean Andes, the Puya alpestris is a member of the pineapple family, with flowers measuring 2 inches across with a number of them blooming up an 18-inch spike, or “tower,” over two to three weeks.

It has been two years since the botanic garden’s sapphire tower, located in the South American Desert Garden, has bloomed.

The 37-acre garden houses more than 4,000 species of plants in 29 themed areas. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.