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Vipers Bugloss or blue weed

Viper's bugloss plant

Viper's bugloss flowers

Viper's bugloss rosette

Paterson's curse plant

P curse flower

P curse rosette

P curse seedling

Hound's tongue flower & fruit

Hound's tongue seedling

Veined verbena

   


BOTANICAL NAME:

Echium vulgare

Family:

Boraginaceae

Status

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

description

Biennial or perennial herb to 1m high that starts as a flat rosette, elongating to a vertical flowering stem. Viper’s bugloss is usually single-stemmed, but may occasionally adopt widely branching habit. Large tubular blue-purple flowers are carried in small clusters at the tips of short side branches. Viper’s bugloss is distinguished from the similar Paterson's curse by its coarse prickly hairs on leaves and stems, the much narrower rosette leaves and having four stamens (the pollen-bearing part of the flower) protruding from each flower, not two.

preferred habitat and impacts

Viper's bugloss is found in degraded pastures, river beds and on roadsides, often on poor, shallow soils. It can reduce carrying capacity of pasture, is not palatable to stock and the long hairs can cause irritation in both livestock and humans. It is a frequent environmental weed in grasslands and grassy woodlands of the tablelands.

Dispersal

Viper’s bugloss is a common roadside weed, spread by slashing, vehicles and in contaminated soil.

Look-alikes

Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum) is similar, but has broader, softly hairy, not prickly rosette leaves and is usually widely branching, not single-stemmed. It is most often an annual. Paterson's curse flowers have only 2 protruding stamens. There is a related native plant, hound's tongue (Cynoglossum australe) which can look a little similar prior to flowering.  It has rough-textured leaves, though not as prickly as those of viper's bugloss.  Its flowers are tiny and sky blue, not purple.  One other weed is sometimes mistaken for Paterson's curse or viper's bugloss, just because it can create large purple swathes in pasture.  This is veined verbena (Verbena rigida), a quite different looking low-growing herb with dense clusters of small purple flowers reminiscent of lantana, to which is is related.

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. Over-grazing will encourage the spread of this unpalatable weed by reducing pasture vigour.