Echium vulgare

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Viper's bugloss
Echium vulgare L.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Boraginales
Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Echium
E. vulgare
Binomial name
Echium vulgare

Echium vulgare — known as viper's bugloss and blueweed[1] — is a species of flowering plant in the borage family Boraginaceae. It is native to most of Europe and western and central Asia[2][3] and it occurs as an introduced species in north-eastern North America, south-western South America and the South Island of New Zealand.[1][4] The plant root was used in ancient times as a treatment for snake or viper bites.[5] If eaten, the plant is toxic to horses and cattle through the accumulation of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the liver.[6][7]


It is a biennial or monocarpic perennial plant growing to 30–80 cm (12–31 in) tall, with rough, hairy, oblanceolate leaves.[8] The flowers start pink and turn vivid blue, and are 15–20 mm (0.59–0.79 in) in a branched spike, with all the stamens protruding. The pollen is blue[9] but the filaments of the stamens remain red, contrasting against the blue flowers. It flowers between May and September in the Northern Hemisphere. The Latin specific epithet vulgare means common.[5]


It is native to Europe and temperate Asia. It has been introduced to Chile,[10] New Zealand[11] and North America, where it is naturalised in parts of the continent including northern Michigan,[3] being listed as an invasive species in Washington.[12] It is found in dry, calcareous grassland and heaths, bare and waste places, along railways and roadsides and on coastal cliffs, sand dunes and shingle.[13]


E. vulgare is cultivated as an ornamental plant, and numerous cultivars have been developed. The cultivar 'Blue Bedder' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[14][15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dickinson, T.; Metsger, D.; Bull, J.; & Dickinson, R. (2004) ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario. Toronto:Royal Ontario Museum, p. 203.
  2. ^ Flora Europaea: Echium vulgare
  3. ^ a b "Echium vulgare". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Echium vulgare L." Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Echium vulgare - Plant Finder". Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Guide to Poisonous Plants – College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences". Colorado State University. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  7. ^ Klemow, Kenneth M.; Clements, David R.; Threadgill, Paul F.; Cavers, Paul B. (1 January 2002). "The biology of Canadian weeds. 116. Echium vulgare L." Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 82 (1): 235–248. doi:10.4141/P01-058.
  8. ^ Graves, Melissa; Mangold, Jane; Jacobs, Jim. "Biology, Ecology and Management of Blueweed" (PDF). Montana State University. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  9. ^ Dorothy Hodges (1952). The pollen loads of the honeybee. Bee Research Association Ltd., London.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Echium vulgare". New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Retrieved 2020-11-28.
  12. ^ "Common viper's bugloss: Echium vulgare (Lamiales: Boraginaceae): Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States". Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  13. ^ Fitter, R. & A. (1974). The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe. Collins.
  14. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Echium vulgare 'Blue Bedder'". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  15. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 35. Retrieved 24 January 2018.