US National Arboretum


Arboretum Plant Photo Gallery
Answer to the Front Page Picture of the Week Question
for February 17th - April 3rd, 2009

Picture of Vipers Bugloss, Echium vulgare.  Click here for a larger image.
This is Viper's Bugloss, Echium vulgare.

Viper's Bugloss is also commonly called Blueweed, Blue thistle, Blue devil, and snake flower. The name Viper is thought to derive from the shape of the seed, which resembles a viper's head. Bugloss is derived from the Greek word for "ox tongue", since the leaves resemble this object. It is a non-native herbaceous biennial or monocarpic perennial plant growing to 1-3 ft tall, with rough, hairy, leaves. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. The flowers are in a branched spike and start pink and turn vivid blue. All of the stamens protrude and remain red and stand out against the blue flowers. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into mid fall. It is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3a-11. Echium vulgare is native to most of Europe, and western and central Asia and is now naturalized in much of North America; however, it is listed as an invasive species in Washington. Some refer to it as a "noxious weed" while others call it a "sweet and delicate flower". This striking species is best viewed and not touched. The sharp spines, which cover the plant, are a powerful deterrent and become lodged in the skin much like those of a cactus. Since it does not require much water, it is found in dry, bare and waste places and would be a good garden subject in an area of little water. Traditionally the leaves of the plant were boiled and made into a tea which helped fevers and headaches. The plant contains alkaloids. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by bees, flies and Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). You can find Echium vulgare, Viper's Bugloss, in the Dioscorides Theme Garden in the National Herb Garden.

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Be sure to go to the Picture of the Week Archive
or see the links below to view other plant images in our various Photo Galleries.

Go to:
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) Photo Gallery
Award Winning Daylilies Photo Gallery
U.S. National Arboretum Crapemyrtle Introductions Photo Gallery
Glenn Dale Azaleas Photo Gallery
Fall Foliage Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery Introduction

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Last Updated   February 17, 2009 12:30 PM

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