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Viper’s Bugloss Flowering

7-9-14 viper's bugloss093Even if it weren’t such a beautiful and vibrantly-colored flower, Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare, would be notable just for its name. “Bugloss” is of Greek origin, from a word signifying an ox’s tongue, and alludes to the roughness and shape of the plant’s leaves. Some say the dead flower-head and/or seed resemble a snake, and in the 1600’s this plant provided a popular cure for snake bites. A long-flowering (all summer and into the fall) member of the Boraginaceae family, Viper’s Bugloss is particularly popular with bees. It produces nectar throughout the day, unlike most plants which produce nectar for a short period of time. With an unlimited supply of Viper’s Bugloss, honeybees can collect between 12 and 20 pounds of nectar a day.

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10 responses

  1. Sam Hawkey

    Hi Mary, Is this plant non-native and/or invasive? A quick internet search suggests yes. Thanks! Sam

    From: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Reply-To: Naturally Curious with Mary Holland Date: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 9:48 AM To: Sam Hawkey Subject: [New post] Viper¹s Bugloss Flowering

    WordPress.com Mary Holland posted: “Even if it weren¹t such a beautiful and vibrantly-colored flower, Viper¹s Bugloss, Echium vulgare, would be notable just for its name. ³Bugloss² is of Greek origin, from a word signifying an ox¹s tongue, and alludes to the roughness and shape of the plan”

    July 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm

  2. Libby

    Gee, I don’t recognize this beauty! Is it primarily a field plant? Does it have a northern border – i.e. the NEK? The fact that it is a super source for honey bees REALLY got my attention!

    July 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    • I’ve always found it in fields, Libby. It’s range extends throughout Vermont as well as most of the U.S., so I’m guessing you’d be able to find it in the NEK.

      July 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

  3. dellwvt

    So interesting! But… Wait a minute… how many bees would it take to collect between 12 and 20 pounds of nectar in a day??

    July 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

  4. Marilyn

    I’ve never seen this weed. In Maine. Looks like it can grow in poor soil.

    July 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

  5. viola

    Interesting. I’ve seen this plant only once in 25 years and that was in the gravelly roadbed next to the railroad tracks in Bradford, VT. I believe it is not native. Why do we not see or hear more of it if it is useful? fear of its becoming invasive? It is a beautiful color.

    July 9, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    • Viola, it is a native of Europe and self-sows quite readily, particularly in poor soil. As a biennial, it is pretty easy to control. But the bees do love it!

      July 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      • Thank, Eliza!

        July 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      • viola

        Many thanks, Eliza

        July 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

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