(Cynoglossum officinale) Borage family

Flowers - Dull purplish red, about 1/3 in. across, borne in a

curved raceme or panicle that straightens as the bloom advances

upward. Calyx 5-parted; corolla salverform, its 5 lobes

spreading; 5 stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: Erect, stout, hairy, leafy,

usually branched, 1 1/2 to 3 ft. high. Leaves: Rather pale, lower

ones large, oblong, slender petioled; upper ones lance-shaped,

sessile, or clasping. (Thought to resemble a dog's tongue.)

Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, waste places.

Flowering Season - May-September.

Distribution - Quebec to Minnesota, south to the Carolinas and.


This is still another weed "naturalized from Europe" which, by

contenting itself with waste land, has been able in an incredibly

short time to overrun half our continent. How easy conquest of

our vast unoccupied area is for weeds that have proved fittest

for survival in the overcultivated Old World! Protected from the

ravages of cattle by a disagreeable odor suggesting a nest of

mice, and foliage that tastes even worse than it smells; by hairs

on its stem that act as a light screen as well as a stockade

against pilfering ants; by humps on the petals that hide the

nectar from winged trespassers on the bees' and butterflies'

preserves, the hound's tongue goes into the battle of life

further armed with barbed seeds that sheep must carry in their

fleece, and other animals, including most unwilling humans,

transport to fresh colonizing ground. For a plant to shower its

seeds beside itself is almost fatal; so many offspring impoverish

the soil and soon choke each other to death, if, indeed, ants and

such crawlers have not devoured the seeds where they lie on the

ground. Some plants like the violet, jewelweed, and witch-hazel

forcibly eject theirs a few inches, feet or yards. The wind blows

millions about with every gust. Streams and currents of water

carry others; ships and railroads give free transportation to

quantities among the hay used in packing; birds and animals lift

many on their feet - Darwin raised 537 plants from a ball of mud

carried between the toes of a snipe! - and such feathered and

furred agents as feed on berries and other fruits sometimes drop

the seeds a thousand miles from the parent. but it will be

noticed that such vagabonds as travel by the hook or by crook

method, getting a lift in the world frpm every passer-by

-.burdocks, beggar-ticks, cleavers, pitchforks, Spanish needles,

and scores of similar tramps that we pick off our clothing after

every walk in autumn - make, perhaps, the most successful

travelers on the globe. The hound's tongue's four nutlets,

grouped in a pyramid, and with barbed spears as grappling-hooks,

imbed themselves in our garments until they pucker the cloth.

Wool growers hurl anathemas at this whole tribe of plants.

A near relative, the common VIRGINIA STICKSEED (Lappula

Virginiana; C. Morisoni of Gray) produces similar little barbed

nutlets, following insignificant, tiny, palest blue or white

flowers up the spike. These bristling seeds, shaped like

sad-irons, reflect in their title the ire of the persecuted man

who named them Beggar's Lice. If as Emerson said, a weed, is a

plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered, the hound's

tongue, the similar but blue-flowered WILD COMFREY (C.

Virginicum), next of kin, and the stickseed are no weeds; for

ages ago the caterpillars of certain tiger moths learned to

depend on their foliage as a food store,

HORSEBALM CITRONELLA RICHWEED STONEROOT HORSEWEED HUCKLEBERRY] facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail