Ithuriel’s Spear is the common name of the beautiful blue wildflower Triteleia laxa (pronounced try-tuh-LAY-uh LAX-uh). The stem is slender and generally possesses a forty-five degree bend shortly before the flower. The flower itself is almost always a deep blue though occasionally a purple version may be found. The most rare variety of the flower is white. The petals are found in loose bunches of six petals each found in three sets of pairs. The petals are also small and delicate, each petal just a few one or two centimeters long.

The scientific name Triteleia laxa is derived from Greek and Latin roots. The Greek words “tria” and “teleo” mean “three” and “complete” respectively, referring to the architecture of the flower’s perfect parts arrangements in threes. “Laxa” is the Latin word for loose, which speaks of the flower’s growth pattern, which traditionally avoids tight clusters and is found regularly in scattered and sprawling patterns.

Although Triteleia laxa is known by different names (the Blue Milla, Wally Basket, Grass Nut, Triplet Lily, and Common Triteleia), Ithuriel’s Spear is beyond question its most common and poetic reference. In John Milton’s Paradise Lost we learn the acts of the angel Ithuriel. At some point in the epic poem the angel Gabriel learns that Satan has entered the Garden of Eden and dispatches Ithuriel and the angel Zephon to seek him out. Once in the Garden, Satan is found near the ear of a sleeping Eve. He had already accomplished his goal of tempting the first woman, but no further damage could be done because once Ithuriel touched Satan with his spear he was returned to his true form because “…no falsehood can endure the touch of…1Ithuriel’s Spear.

Triteleia laxa is found in clay soils of open forests, woodlands, grasslands, and occasionally as a coastal scrub plant. Its blooming period stretches from April to June and they stay vibrantly abundant throughout the summer months.

1From Paradise Lost, the text.

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