The flowers on this plant look very much like a scabiosa, but the seed heads and leaves are different. The plant forms a 2-3 foot tall sprawling shrub. Leaf margins are entire. Flowers are about 1.5-2 inches in diameter. Flowering now (end of March) in southern California.
SOLVED: purple scabiosa-like flower, sprawling perennial shrub
The seed heads DO like Scabiosa as well as the flowers, I think a view of the leaves might be helpful. I suspect that it is a Scabiosa, but I am unsure of the species. The seed heads resemble those of Scabiosa stellata: http://www.burpee.com/flowers/scabiosa-flowers/scabiosa-starflower-(s.-stellata)-prod000363.html
I don't think that is your species, but I am offering it as an example of the fruiting structure.
I was going to suggest S. farinose, but your leaves look smoother from what I can see.
Looks like a regular Scabiosa with early foliage coming up.
None of the scabiosas suggested have the appropriate leaves. This pic is from a shrub that is several years old-- I've tried to zoom in on the foliage a little more. The leaves are completely smooth with entire margins, unlike all the scabiosa images I've seen. The Pterocephalus dumetorum looks close (probably the right genus), but I don't think it's that particular species. A friend collected the seed in Spain, but I don't know if it's actually native to Spain or not. The leaves are slightly thick (not 'succulent', but heading that direction) and about 2 inches long.
Pterocephalus lasiospermus is native to Spain. http://www.huismanfoto.eu/Album%20353%20Tenerife%20wilde%20flora%203/slides/P1010166%20Tenerife%20Pterocephalus%20lasiospermus%20030610.html
I am still not positive that is what you have, but I think we might be getting closer.
P. virens looks the closest to me. Not all of the photos I find look identical but some do.
look at http://www.floradecanarias.com/pterocephalus_virens.html
This message was edited Mar 29, 2013 1:44 PM