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Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale


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© Mrs. W.D. Bransford

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Family: Boraginaceae, Borage view all from this family

Description Introduced. A weedy biennial bearing small purple flowers, followed by prickly button-shaped nutlets, along a leafy stem.
Flowers: 1/4" (6 mm) long; pink to purple; 5 petals and 5 sepals; borne in small clusters.
Leaves: 6-8" (15-20 cm) long; 3/4-2" (2-5 cm) wide; elliptical to lanceolate.
Fruit: 1/4" (6 mm) brown or grayish nutlets covered in small barbs.
Height: to 4' (1.2 m).

Warning Houndstongue can be fatally poisonous to horses and cattle if eaten. Humans should avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals.

Habitat Disturbed habitats, such as roadsides, abandoned fields, and waste sites.

Range Eurasia native; introduced to North America and naturalized in Canada and the United States, except parts of the South.

Discussion This weed was accidentally introduced to North America as a component of agricultural seed. It can quickly colonize an old field or pasture, growing rapidly and densely enough to inhibit the growth of native species. It is considered a noxious or invasive weed in many areas.