Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Houndstongue
Cynoglossum officinale

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Cynoglossum (SIGH-no-gloss-um) (Info)
Species: officinale (oh-fiss-ih-NAH-lee) (Info)

2 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Scarlet (Dark Red)

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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No positives
No neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative bahngarten On May 24, 2014, bahngarten from Yachats, OR wrote:

I saw this plant in SE Oregon last week near Page Springs, where it was growing and blooming happily along the roadside in a disturbed area. I would guess it could be invasive.
It is not native.

Negative Joan On Mar 15, 2007, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plant was just recently declared a noxious weed in our county.

Houndstongue grows in ranges, pastures, and roadsides, and is toxic to horses and cattle. The weed contains alkaloids that may cause liver cells to stop reproducing.

It reproduces by seeds and appears as a leafy rosette in its first year. The stem is erect, stout, heavy, 1-1/2 to 3 feet high, usually branched above. The leaves are alternate, the basal and lower ones are broad, and are oblong to lance-shaped. The upper leaves are narrower and pointed, almost clasping. The flowers are terminal and reddish-purple in color. The fruit consists of four nutlets (seeds), each about 1/3 inch long, with the outer surface covered with short, barbed prickles. Nutlets break apart at maturity and are rapidly scattered by animals. "Notation from the Colorado Weed Management Association"

This plant is listed on the North Dakota invasive/troublesome list and this information is being distributed in a guide developed by the ND Weed Control Association and other agencies.

Plant Features
Biennial, up to 3 feet tall
Seeds, very adhesive due to burr-like surface
Rosettes of first year plant low to the ground
Large taproot
Long narrow leaves hairy, rough, velvety, very pronounced mid-rib
Flowers small, 1/4 inch, dark reddish-purple

Documented in several areas. Shade tolerant, usually associated with brush and trees. Once established, spreads into open areas.

Interesting Facts
Also referred to as gypsy-flower because seeds spread by attaching to animals
Can be fatal to livestock when ingested. Plants produce a toxin that stops liver cells from reproducing. Death can occur several months after ingestion


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Belfield, North Dakota
Tremonton, Utah

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