Information on Viper's-bugloss

Common Name: Viper's-bugloss
Scientific Name: Echium vulgare
Irish Name: Lus nathrach
Family Group: Boraginaceae.
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Viper's-bugloss is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


Not very commonly seen in Ireland but unmistakeable when found, Viper's-bugloss is a strikingly handsome plant which reaches a height of up to 80cm.  Usually a biennial, in its first year it produces a basal rosette of large, strap-shaped stalked leaves.  The following year its beautiful flowers are borne on solitary stems which are covered in reddish bristles.  The funnel-shaped flowers (15-20mm long) are deep blue with protruding violet-coloured stamens and grow in coiled cymes from leaf axils, blooming from May to September.  As they uncurl, they are populated by numerous nectar-seeking insects including the Painted Lady butterfly.  The upper unstalked leaves are narrow and pointed. This is a native plant which belongs to the family Boraginaceae.

I only saw this wildflower once in Ireland when I found it growing near Broad Lough, Co Wicklow in 1980.  In 2010, I was lucky enough to be given a small seedling by a friend living not far from that area. It flowered in my own piece of garden in 2011. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Viper's-bugloss
Viper's-bugloss

The name Bugloss is derived from Greek for an ox-tongue and alludes to the roughness of the plant.