Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Viper's Bugloss or Blueweed: Echium vulgare

Weed Description:  A biennial that takes on a rosette growth habit during the first year of growth and produces a flowering stem during the second year.  Plants are covered with long hairs and produce many bright blue flowers.  Viper's Bugloss is primarily a weed of pastures,   roadsides, and noncrop areas.
Leaves:  Rosette leaves are oblong to linear- lanceolate in outline, 2 to 6 inches long and reaching 1 1/4 inches in width.  Rosette leaves narrow to a short petiole.  Leaves that occur on the flowering stem  are also oblong to linear-lanceolate in outline but do not have petioles.  Flowering stem leaves also become progressively smaller up the stem.   All leaves have white 'speckles' that give the leaves a dimpled appearance and also have relatively long white hairs.
Stems:  Erect, branching, reaching 2 1/2 feet in height.  Stems also have relatively long, bristly hairs.
Flowers:  Bright blue to purple in color, approximately 8 to 12 mm long.  Flowers somewhat resemble a funnel and also have external hairs.
Roots:  Taproot.
Identifying Characteristics:   The 'dimpled' appearance of the leaves and bright blue to purple flowers of viper's bugloss helps to distinguish this weed from most other weed species.  When in the rosette stage, this weed might be confused with Curly Dock (Rumex crispus), but curly dock does not have white-speckled and 'dimpled' leaves like viper's bugloss.