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Paterson's Curse or Salvation Jane

Paterson's curse plant

P curse flower

P curse rosette

P curse seedling

Viper's bugloss plant

Viper's bugloss flowers

Viper's bugloss rosette

Hound's tongue flower & fruit

Hound's tongue seedling

     

BOTANICAL NAME:

Echium plantagineum


Family:

Boraginaceae

Status:

Paterson's curse is declared noxious in the Southern Tablelands and South East Region in all LCAs except for Illawarra and Shoalhaven, in class 4.

Description

Paterson's curse is an annual or biennial herb to 1m high that starts as a flat rosette, elongating to a vertical flowering stem. Paterson’s curse stems are usually widely branching from close to the base, but it may adopt a single-stemmed habit if growing on poor soils. Large tubular blue-purple flowers with protruding stamens are the most distinctive feature.

Preferred habitat and impacts

Found in pasture, river beds and on roadsides and other waste ground. Because this plant is avoided by most stock it can become dominant in grazed pasture. Paterson's curse is toxic to pigs and horses and to a lesser extent to sheep if they graze it over a long period, and the honey made from it contains toxic alkaloids, though the significance of this to human health is not known.

Dispersal

The initial introduction of Paterson’s curse is usually in contaminated hay, after which the sticky seed is spread in or on livestock, or by water.

Look-alikes

Viper' bugloss or blueweed (Echium vulgare) is quite similar, but its flowers have 4 protruding stamens, not 2, the plant has coarser long prickly hairs and the rosette leaves are narrower and very hairy. It is often only single-stemmed.
There is a native plant, hound's tongue (Cynoglossum australe) which has similar shaped roughly hairy leaves, and its seedlings could be mistaken for those of Paterson's curse, especially if the latter are growing in shady sites, when the leaves may beheld erect rather than flat on the ground. The flowers of hound's tongue are tiny and pale blue.

Control

Hand chip or spray. On high production pastures cultivate and establish a dense sward of grasses and clovers that will out-compete the weeds.