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Nawrot czerwonoblekitny Lithospermum purpurocaeruceum.jpg
Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: (unplaced)
Family: Boraginaceae
Subfamily: Boraginoideae
Genus: Lithospermum
Type species
Lithospermum officinale

about 50-60, see text

Lithospermum is a genus of plants belonging to the family Boraginaceae. The genus is distributed nearly worldwide, but most are native to the Americas and the center of diversity is in the southwestern United States and Mexico.[1] Species are known generally as gromwells or stoneseeds.

Some species, such as Lithospermum arvense, are sometimes classified in the genus Buglossoides, but that genus is subsumed into Lithospermum by works such as the Flora of China.[2] In addition, a 2010 molecular study showed that the genus Onosmodium should be included within Lithospermum.[1]

The dried root of Lithospermum erythrorhizon is a Chinese herbal medicine with various antiviral and biological activities, including inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1).[3][4] Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum is native to Japan, where it has been traditionally been used to make a purple dye.

Lithospermum leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera, such as the moth Ethmia pusiella which has been recorded on L. officinale.

Use as a contraceptive by the squaws of the Shoshone Indian tribes in Nevada was published in "Health - Contraceptive, Indian Style" Chatelaine, June 1964, 10. Roots of Lithospermum Plant 06-01-1964 - pg 10 - Health - Contraceptive, Indian Style = Contraceptive, Indian style The squaws of the Shoshone Indian tribes in Nevada have been using oral contraceptives for centuries. They drink an extract of the roots of lithospermum plant to suppress ovulation. Recent study of the plant shows that it contains a previously unknown substance called polyphenotic acid. Under study, it effectively inactivated the sex glands of rats and prevented ovulation in laying hens. Continual use evidently causes no side effects among Shoshone women.


There are about 50[2] to 60[5] species in the genus.

Species include:[2][6][7]


  1. ^ a b Cohen, J. I. and J. I. Davis. (2009). Nomenclatural changes in Lithospermum (Boraginaceae) and related taxa following a reassessment of phylogenetic relationships. Brittonia 61(2), 101-11.
  2. ^ a b c "Lithospermum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 132. 1753.". Flora of China. 
  3. ^ Chen, X., et al. (2003). Shikonin, a component of Chinese herbal medicine, inhibits chemokine receptor function and suppresses human immunodeficiency virus type 1. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 47(9), 2810-16.
  4. ^ Gao, H., et al. (2011). Anti-adenovirus activities of shikonin, a component of Chinese herbal medicine in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull. 34(2) 197-202.
  5. ^ Cohen, J. I., (2012). Comparative floral development in Lithospermum (Boraginaceae) and implications for the evolution and development of heterostyly. American Journal of Botany 99(5), 797-805.
  6. ^ GRIN Species Records of Lithospermum. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
  7. ^ Lithospermum. USDA PLANTS: North American species.
  8. ^ a b c d e Weigend, M., et al. (2010). Five new species of Lithospermum L.(Boraginaceae tribe Lithospermeae) in Andean South America: another radiation in the Amotape-Huancabamba zone. Taxon 59(4), 1161-79.

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