Viper’s Bugloss

Biological Name:

Echium vulgare (Viper’s-Bugloss)

Natural Habitat:

The Viper’s-Bugloss is native to Europe, where it can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and along the edges of forests.


Viper’s-Bugloss also known as Echium is a plant that is native to grassland and prairie regions of North America. It is a biennial herb that can grow up to four feet tall and it has large hairy leaves and small blue or purple flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant is known for its ability to produce toxins that can be harmful to grazing animals and it is often considered a weed in agricultural fields. and it is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is Viper’s Bugloss poisonous to humans?
A: Native to Eurasia, vipers bugloss is found in pastures, along roadsides and waterways, and in disturbed areas. It thrives in poor soil. The plant’s stiff hairs can cause skin irritation in humans, and it is toxic and unpalatable to horses and cattle.

Q: What is the deadliest plant to humans?
A: Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata) … Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) … White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) … Castor Bean (Ricinus communis) … Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius) … Oleander (Nerium oleander) … Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)

Q: What is Vipers Bugloss good for?
A: The leaves and flowering stems are antitussive, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral and vulnerary – relieve fevers, headaches, lung disorders, chest conditions, colds and nervous complaints. The best leaves to use are the ones growing from the root and lying on the ground.

Q: What is the deadliest poisonous plant?
A: Oleander Nerium Every portion of this plant is packed of toxins, making it the most dangerous plant on the planet. Oleandrin and neriine are two of the most potent. The poison of an oleander is so potent that it can even poison someone who eats honey created by bees that have ingested oleander nectar.

Q: Is bugloss toxic to dogs?
A: Clinical Signs: The plant is not very palatable, but will be eaten by animals with no other forage; poisonings typically occur from ingestion of green plant material or material in hay. The toxic components can cause liver failure, referred to as “walking disease”” or “”sleepy staggers””.”

Q: Are 4 O clocks poisonous?
A: You are right: Japanese beetles love to dine on four o’clocks, and according to several university sources these plants are poisonous to them. They are also toxic to people and pets. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten and the sap can cause dermatitis.

Q: Why is it called Viper’s Bugloss?
A: “Bugloss” is a common name for borages in Europe. The plant is associated with “vipers” because the nutlets supposedly resemble a snake’s head.

Q: Is Brunnera plant invasive?
A: Although this plant offers a beautiful blue, those who want a plant that is not potentially invasive might consider the perennial, Brunnera macrophylla, commonly called false forget-me-not.

Q: Do Echiums come back every year?
A: The tree echium is a biennial or short-lived perennial, so once it flowers, it dies. Flowering usually occurs in the second year, so it should have set seed; often if it likes its space (and it sounds as if yours does).

Q: Should Echium be cut back?
A: Echium do not require pruning. If you are growing shrubby types (eg. E. candicans) removing old flower spikes and giving it a light trim in October (assuming they are in a frost-free environment over winter) will help to maintain a neat shape and prevent the plant becoming straggly.

Q: What to do with Echium after flowering?
A: The echium vulgare thrives in full sun, in moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Deadheading regularly will encourage extended flowering. After the flowering period, you can leave the stems uncut and this plant will self-sow freely around the garden.

Q: Can Echium grow in shade?
A: Echiums need free draining soil to enable them survive wet winters. They thrive in full sun but will tolerate shadier situations – they might get a little misshapen as they grow in the direction of the light.

Q: Is Echium poisonous to humans?
A: Is Echium pininana poisonous? Echium pininana can be toxic.

Q: Is Vipers bugloss the same as borage?
A: The Vipers Bugloss plant (Echium vulgare) is also variously known as “Borage”” and “”Blue Borage”” and this at times leads to considerable confusion when the culinary herb Blue Borage (Borago officinalis) is mistaken as the source of this honey.

Q: Is bugloss a perennial?
A: Resembling Forget-Me-Nots, Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian Bugloss) are rhizomatous herbaceous perennials with large, ovate or heart-shaped basal leaves and pretty sprays of small bright blue flowers in spring.

Q: Are Vipers Bugloss rare?
A: As a species it is not endangered but is now only common in specific areas. Usually biennial, (like carrot plants flowering in the second year) Vipers Bugloss can occasionally behave as an annual (grows and flowers in one year) and it’s vibrant blue flowers can be seen from May – September.

Q: Where did viper’s bugloss originate?
A: Viper’s bugloss is a member of the borage family and was originally native to most of Europe and Asia. However, humans introduced it to North America some time ago. It has since naturalized quite well and is even considered invasive in parts of Washington.

Q: Can you propagate Echium from cuttings?
A: PROPAGATION: Can be propagated from seed but cuttings can be taken in summer or spring. POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: Less frost hardy than some other Echium varieties. Can self-seed in milder climates so position carefully.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.