Bristly Oxtongue

Bristly Oxtongue Plant Information


Bristly Oxtongue grows in the following 19 states:

Connecticut, District Of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Oregon, California, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Washington

Helminthotheca echioides, known as bristly oxtongue, is a stiff annual or biennial herb native to Europe and North Africa. It was traditionally used as an antihelminthic treatment.

H. echioides may grow up to 90cm (35in) tall, with a thick, furrowed stem and spreading branches. The leaves are 10-20cm (4-8in) long, oblanceolate with a short petiole. The leaves, branches and stem are all covered in thick bristles. The inflorescences are 2-3.5cm (0.8-1.4in) wide and subtended by between 3 and 5 large ovate-cordate involucral bracts. These large bracts are the defining feature of the genus Helminthotheca.
A number of infraspecific taxa are recognised, varying in their leaf shape.
Helminthotheca echioides is native to the Mediterranean Basin, but has become widely naturalised outside that range. In the British Isles, it is widely distributed in the south and east, but more patchily distributed to the north and west. In Northern Ireland, H. echioides is only found on the north side of Belfast Lough.
It has been introduced to North America, where it can now be found from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and California.
The specific epithet echioides comes from the resemblance of the leaves of this species to those of Echium vulgare.

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