BORAGE FAMILY - Boraginaceae: Viper's Bugloss; Blue-weed; Viper's Herb or Grass; Snake-flower; Blue Thistle; Blue Devil

Echium vulgare

Flowers--Bright blue, afterward reddish purple, pink in the bud, numerous, clustered on short, 1-sided curved spikes rolled up at first, and straightening out as flowers expand. Calyx deeply 5-cleft; corolla 1 in. long or less, funnel form, the 5 lobes unequal, acute; 5 stamens inserted on corolla tube, the filaments spreading below, and united above into slender appendage, the anthers forming a cone; 1 pistil with 2 stigmas. Stem: 1 to 2 1/2 ft. high; bristly-hairy, erect, spotted. Leaves: Hairy, rough, oblong to lance-shaped, alternate, seated on stem, except at base of plant.

Preferred Habitat--Dry fields, waste places, roadsides

Flowering Season--June-July.

Distribution--New Brunswick to Virginia, westward to Nebraska; Europe and Asia.

Years ago, when simple folk believed God had marked plants with some sign to indicate the special use for which each was intended, they regarded the spotted stem of the bugloss, and its seeds shaped like a serpent's head, as certain indications that the herb would cure snake bites. Indeed, the genus takes its name from Echis, the Greek viper.