Ontario Weeds: Blueweed

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Related Links

Name: Blueweed, Echium vulgare L., [EHIVU]

Other Names: Blue devil, Blue-thistle, Viper's bugloss, vipérine, vipérine vulgaire, herbe aux vipères

Family: Borage Family (Boraginacae)

General Description: Biennial, occasionally annual or short-lived perennial, reproducing only by seed. It is distinguished by its deep thick taproot, long narrow rosette leaves, erect stem with short 1-side branches of bright blue flowers, unequally lobed corolla with protruding stamens, its clusters of 4 hard, bony, rough nutlets, and by being harshly rough-hairy throughout.

Photos and Pictures






Stems & Roots: First-year plant producing a rosette of long, narrow, harshly hairy leaves and deeply penetrating fleshy taproot; flowering stem produced in the second year, or rarely in the first year and the plant acting as an annual; stems erect 30 - 90 cm (12 - 36 in.) high, 1 to several from each taproot, harshly hairy with a mixture of a few, scattered, long, stiff hairs among dense short hair, the longer hair having swollen reddish or blackish bases visible as small bumps on the stem surface; stem leaves alternate (1 per node), similar to the basal leaves but smaller and narrower, harshly hairy, most hair stiff with swollen bases.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers numerous in 1-sided, short, arching branches near the top of the stem; petals bright blue, forming an irregular corolla with the upper lobes longer than the lower ones and 4 of the 5 stamens plus the hairy stigma protruding from the corolla; seeds in the form of 4 hard, gray or brown, very rough nutlets about 3 mm (1/8 in.) long. Flowers from June until autumn.

Habitat: Blueweed occurs throughout Ontario in coarse sandy or gravelly soil in pastures, waste places and roadsides. The bright blue flowers are attractive and provide significant pasture for honeybees. When the plant matures, the stiff hair of stem, leaves, and sepal becomes very sharp and hard and causes severe physical irritation to tender skin.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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