Viper's Bugloss

Echium vulgare
Borage family (Boraginaceae)

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


It is a biennial or monocarpic perennial plant growing to 30–80 cm (12–31 in) tall, with rough, hairy, oblanceolate leaves. 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 but the filaments of the stamens remain red, contrasting against the blue flowers. It flowers between May and September.


It is native to Europe and temperate Asia. It has been introduced to Chile, North America and is naturalised in parts of the continent including northern Michigan, being listed as an invasive species in Washington state. 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.


Echium 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.


See also

  • Monofloral honey
  • Northern Nectar Sources for Honeybees


  • Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.



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