Echium vulgare


Echium: Possibly named the Greek echis 'viper', named for the seeds' resemblance to a vipers' head. The plant was believed by the 1st century physician Dioscoridesbe to be a remedy for a viper's bite.

Common Name(s)

viper's bugloss



Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Terrestrial. Short tussock grassland, herbfield, bare land, riverbeds, usually in dry, low fertility inland areas.


Densely bristly annual or biennial herb to 50-90 cm high. Deep taproot. Stems stiff, erect, covered in reddish bristly hairs, with many short branches. Basal rosette leaves to 15 x 5 cm, narrow, stiffly bristly, harsh to touch. Stem leaves much smaller, alternate, also rough. Flowers funnel-shaped, 5- petalled, 12-18 mm long, pink in bud, becoming vivid blue (rarely remaining pink or white), 4 long stamens protruding and 1 smaller inside flower; in tapering spike-like heads, Nov-Jan. Seeds 4- angled, egg-shaped, 2 mm long.

Similar Taxa

E. plantagineum Pattersons curse is less common (warmer areas only), has flowers 2-3 cm long, purplish-blue, with 2 protruding stamens, leaves less harsh. Borago officinalis borage occ escapes from cultivation, has star-like flowers 20-25 mm diam, in drooping clusters with cone of dark purple stamens; leaves with wavy margins, basal leaves up to 30 x 20 cm.


November, December, January

Flower Colours

Blue,Red / Pink

Year Naturalised




Reason for Introduction


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Annual or Biennial. Produces many, long-lived seeds that are dispersed by wind, water, river gravel.


Tolerates dry, wind, physical damage and poor soils.

This page last updated on 22 Aug 2013