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Echium vulgare L.
(Greek: echis = snake)

As with numerous labiates (see thyme), the "pistil tongue" of this rough-leaf plant juts far out of the pink crown tube. The dual-lobe stigma thus reminds of the split tongue of a snake. But also the filaments stick out of the top, hence reminding of a whole basket of adders.

Reason enough, according to mediaeval teachings on signs, to consider the plant as a remedy against snakebite (in the middle ages, similarities between parts of plants and certain human organs were recognized as a "sign from God" indicating possible medicinal effects). This healing effect does not exist - though the young leaves of the viper´s bugloss can be used as wild vegetables, the root as a colorant, and, furthermore, the plant is an important feeding plant for bees, bumble bees and butterflies.

It grows on dry, stony ground, along paths and undeveloped sites, and has given its name to an own plant association, the viper´s bugloss -sweet clover-rockery.

Picture above:
Sturm, Jacob; Sturm, Johann Georg (1796): Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen. Stuttgart. [Ausschnitt].
© Kurt Stüber's Online Library.

Picture below:
Blackwell, Elizabeth (1750-1773): Herbarium Blackwellianum emendatum et auctum [...]. Norimbergae : Typis Io. Iosephi Fleischmanni. [Ausschnitt].
© 1995-2003 Missouri Botanical Garden, Rare Books.

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