Echium vulgare (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

Blueweed (Echium vulgare) is a naturalized biennial herb found in fields and waste places across Canada. The bristly hairs on this plant cause skin irritation. There is no mention of whether the irritation is purely mechanical or whether it is caused by chemicals in the hairs on the leaves and stems. This plant may also contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids including heliosupine (Cheeke 1989, Cooper and Johnson 1984). Poisoning by this plant has not been reported. Purple bugloss (Echium lycopsis L. = Echium plantagineum L.) has been collected in Canada on a couple of occasions, but it does not persist. This species does contain several pyrrolizidine alkaloids, including echimidine, echiumine, and heliotrine. The plant has caused death of horses and liver damage of sheep in Australia (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Cheeke 1989). Lampe and McCann (1985) discuss toxicity of both species to humans after ingestion of herbal teas containing Echium spp. Chronic consumption can cause veno-occlusive disease of the liver (Budd-Chiari syndrome), with hepatic vein thrombosis leading to cirrhosis. Purple bugloss (Echium lycopsis), which is discussed above, contains chemicals that can cause this type of problem. However, it does not appear to persist in Canada. There is no information in the literature on blueweed causing such poisoning, but it may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (Cheeke 1989). Caution is obviously warranted. Teas containing either of these plants should not be used by humans.

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R. 1989. Pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicity and metabolism in laboratory animals and livestock. Pages 1-22 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. I. Alkaloids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 335 pp.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Echium vulgare L.
Vernacular name(s):
blueweed
Scientific family name:
Boraginaceae
Vernacular family name:
borage

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Echium vulgare

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: Echium vulgare - Google Search

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

The bristly hairs covering the stem and leaves produce severe inflammation when they break off and become imbedded in the skin (Muenscher 1975).

Toxic parts:

  • hairs

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Cheeke (1989) mentions that blueweed contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, but no further information is given. Another member of the genus (Echium lycopsis) contains several alkaloids that have caused poisoning of animals in Australia.

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • unknown chemical

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

The hairs on blueweed cause intense itchiness and skin irritation (Muenscher 1975).

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

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