Patterson’s curse

Patterson’s curse

Echium plantagineum (Boraginaceae)

Common Name:

Patterson’s curse

Scientific Name:

Echium plantagineum (Boraginaceae)

Alternative common names:

Franklin weed; purple echium; salvation Jane (English); pers-echium; bloudisseldoring; natterkop (Afrikaans)


A deep-rooted biennial up to 1m high. The leaves and stems are covered with coarse, white hairs. The stem leaves are long and small and the basal rosette leaves are broad and large with prominent lateral veins. Blue or purple flowers appear from October to April. 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 NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Throughout the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, as well as parts of the Free State and Mpumalanga.

How does it spread?

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

Why is it a problem?

It competes with cultivated crops and pasture species and indigenous ruderal species. The 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, but tend to be larger and more prominent at the base.
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: Consisting of four tuberculate three-sided nutlets.

Does the plant have any uses?

Introduced as an ornamental.

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