From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Natternkopf oe.jpg
Echium vulgare
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: (unplaced)
Family: Boraginaceae
Subfamily: Boraginoideae
Genus: Echium

See text.

Echium /ˈɛkiəm/[1] is a genus of 60 species of flowering plant in the family Boraginaceae.

The type species is Echium vulgare (viper's bugloss). Species of Echium are native to North Africa, mainland Europe and the Macaronesian islands.,[2] but have also become invasive in southern Africa and Australia. One species, Echium plantagineum (Patterson's Curse), has become a major invasive species in Australia.


Many species are used as ornamental and garden plants and may be found in suitable climates throughout the world. In Crete Echium italicum is called pateroi (πάτεροι) or voidoglosses (βοϊδόγλωσσες) and its tender shoots are eaten boiled or steamed.[3]

Echium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora onosmella and Orange Swift.

Echium oil contains high levels of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA), making it valuable in cosmetic and skin care applications, with further potential as a functional food, as an alternative to fish oils.[4]


Echium judaeum near Har Arif, Negev, southern Israel, in spring 2014.


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ Böhle, U.-R., Hilger, H.H. & Martin, W.F. 2001. Island colonization and evolution of the insular woody habit in Echium L. (Boraginaceae). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 93:11740-11745.
  3. ^ Kleonikos G. Stavridakis , Κλεόνικος Γ. Σταυριδάκης (2006). Wild edible plants of Crete - Η Άγρια βρώσιμη χλωρίδα της Κρήτης. Rethymnon Crete. ISBN 960-631-179-1. 
  4. ^ National Non-Food Crops Centre. NNFCC Crop Factsheet: Echium