Cynoglossum virginianum L. - Wild Comfrey

Cynoglossum virginianum plant

Family - Boraginaceae

Stems - To .75m tall, from thick taproot, herbaceous, erect, simple, hirsute, subfistulose.

Cynoglossum virginianum stemStem and cauline leaf base.

Leaves - Alternate. Basal and lowest cauline leaves petiolate, spatulate, to +25cm long, densely pubescent, entire, scabrous. Upper cauline leaves sessile, clasping, densely pubescent, lanceolate to linear-oblong, to 10cm long, +3cm broad, reduced above, entire, blunt to rounded or subacute at apex.

Cynoglossum virginianum basalsBasal leaves.

Inflorescence - Terminal loose cymes(typically paired) in a scorpoid arrangement, indeterminate. Peduncles hirsute. Pedicels to -1cm, hirsute.

Flowers - Corolla tubular, funnelform, 5-lobed, to -1cm broad at apex. Tube to 2mm long. Lobes to 3mm long, 2.5mm broad, pale blue. Stamens 5, alternating with corolla lobes, adnate to corolla tube, mostly included. Anthers -1mm long. Ovary of 4 nutlets which appear attached at base. Style to 1.1mm long, arising from between nutlets (nutlets to +5mm long in fruit). Calyx deeply 5-lobed. Lobes to 4mm long, 2.5mm broad, oblong, densely pubescent.

Cynoglossum virginianum calyxCalyx.

Cynoglossum virginianum flowerFlower close-up.

Cynoglossum virginianum fruitFruit close-up.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Rich rocky woods, slopes, ravines, ridges, thickets, bottoms.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found mostly in the southern and eastern half of Missouri. The plant is easy to identify in the field because of its big basal leaves, hirsute stems, and pale blue flowers.
Medicinally the plant was used by natives to treat a host of ailments. Cancer, gonorrhea, and genital itching were all thought to be helped by drinking a tea made from the roots of the plant. In more recent times the leaves were smoked like tobacco.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 4-29-03, and in the Red Hills of Alabama, 3-25-06.


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