Echium Species, Viper's Bugloss

Echium vulgare

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Echium (EK-ee-um) (Info)
Species: vulgare (vul-GAIR-ee) (Info)




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Magenta (pink-purple)

Dark Blue


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Flagstaff, Arizona

Arroyo Grande, California

Merced, California

San Diego, California

Gainesville, Florida

Barbourville, Kentucky

Lusby, Maryland

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Scottville, Michigan

Brainerd, Minnesota

Deposit, New York

Jamesville, New York

West Kill, New York

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Southampton, Pennsylvania

Kalama, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 8, 2013, pookha from edmonton,
Canada wrote:

It is on Alberta Invasive Plant Council noxious weed list

Alas, as it is a top 5 bee plant
can produce 300-1,000 lb. honey & 500-2,000 lb. pollen per acre
BUT they are using Picloram & 2,4-D to eradicate


On Jul 11, 2012, rebkah from Village Shires, PA wrote:

Viper's Bugloss used to grow profusely and beautifully at Cove Point Beach, Lusby, MD (along with native prickly pear cactus!) up til about 1990, but has nearly disappeared due to habitat destruction (instead of salty sandy weedy scrubby beachy yards, everybody now has irrigated lawns). I once tried to transplant a few to Levittown PA, but they failed to thrive (soil too clayey and wet, I think).

To my surprise I just discoverd a stand of VB on the dry, gravelly shoulder of Rt. 611 near Doylestown PA (July 2012) The plant obviously prefers truly impossible conditions, but in my experience dies when given normal plant care. If you have some you want to discourage, just baby it. If you want it to grow, plant it in un-amended gravel and sand, ignore it, and fail to water or fer... read more


On Aug 20, 2010, Schulzie from San Francisco, CA wrote:

This plant showed up unbidden in the small conservatory close to my home in San Francisco. It has pretty blue flowers and its leaves and stems are covered with really abundant hair-needles. Bees do love it. has grown amazingly in a short time, and even crossed a standard concrete path. It has buried a small agave. Truly this is a noxious pest plant in this site, and will be removed promptly.


On Dec 15, 2009, 8491 from canberra,
Australia wrote:

Although it looks beautiful in mass as in garygardeners photo. This shows the invasiveness of the plant and can make good grazing land almost useless as it can give problems to some grazing animals. Hence, why it is deer proof, it is declared a noxious weed in Australia and hence the common name Patterson's Curse.


On Dec 14, 2009, KanapahaLEW from Alachua, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not found Viper's to be invasive on the very fertile and alkaline soil of the Herb Garden at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. I have also found it to act more like an annual than biennial, flowering within a few months from seed. The blue is beautiful and the flowers are loved by bees.


On Dec 10, 2009, gthrel from Mount Duneed,
Australia wrote:

This plant is a noxious weed in Australia. One of it's names is Patersons Curse. It spreads rapidly in hay and with stock transported to new paddocks. It grows more readily in poor land with low rainfall. The presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids contained in the plant cause cumulative chronic liver damage to stock.


On Feb 6, 2005, Keystone from Silverton, ID wrote:

Very invasive, pushing out natives Prefers gravelly, sandy soils along riparian areas which aids its spread. Extensive seed bank. It is on several county weed lists and being added to Idaho State weed list. Gerninates spring to fall making control laborous.


On Jul 13, 2004, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

This stuff grows wild all over my yard in the Catskills. It is a gorgeous blue and very vigorous, although it is somewhat prickly. Be careful handling it--it can leave little spines in your skin and cause a rash. It is invasive, and I don't put in my garden beds,but I leave it wherever it pops up and it provides a welcome splash of brilliant color.


On Jul 12, 2004, jhyshark from Scottville, MI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I just love this plant! It grows as a weed in my lawn, but I moved some to the flower beds. It is a biennial, so must move the new rosettes to where I would like the plant to grow, but it is so tolerant of abuse that most of these survive even if I break the taproot. Can't beat the true blue of the flowers, and the buds are pink, which yield to the blue when open. Given my poor, dry soil, it's one of my most reliable bloomers. Get's ugly when it's gone to seed, but I just trim it back. Enough seeds always escape to create the next batch of babies.


On Aug 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is considered invasive (noxious weed) in 35 states.


On Aug 4, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Viper's Bugloss is a showy biennial of Eurasian origin, imported to the U.S., where it has naturalized in pastures and roadways.

The plant is covered with prickly hairs. It grows on walls, old quarries and gravel pits, and is common on calcareous soils.

The name Bugloss, which is of Greek origin, signifies an Ox's Tongue, and was applied to it from the roughness and shape of the leaves.

It is a favorite of bees and hummingbird moths.