Blue echium

Blue echium

Echium vulgare

Common Name:

Blue echium

Scientific Name:

Echium vulgare

Alternative common names:

Blue deveil; blueweed; viper’s bugloss (English) blou-echium; bloubossie (Afrikaans)


A deep-rooted biennial up to 1m high. The leaves and stems are covered with coarse, white hairs. The stem leaves are small and the basal rosette leaves are narrow without prominent lateral veins. Blue or purple flowers appear from October to April. Flowers are spike-like. This plant is poisonous and invades cultivated land, pastures and roadsides.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Europe and Asia.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 Proposed legislation: NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Largely in the Western Cape as well as the eastern Free State and southern Gauteng.

How does it spread?

Spread by seed dispersal and long distance spread often via fodder.

Why is it a problem?

It competes with cultivated crops and pasture species and indigenous ruderal species. This plant is also poisonous and irritant.

What does it look like?

General description: Deep-rooted biennial grows up to 1m high, and stems covered with coarse, white hairs with bulbous bases.
Leaves: Leaves small, narrow, sessile, without prominent lateral veins.
Flowers: Caterpillar-like curved spikes; funnel-shaped flowers, usually purple but also blue or pink, less often white. Flowers from July to October.
Fruit/Seeds: Produces small nutlets.

Does the plant have any uses?

Used as an ornamental plant.

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