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Washington State Weeds

Common Bugloss

Common Bugloss

Anchusa officinalis • Class B

Family Name: Boraginacea family (Bor-AJ-in-nee-see-ee)
Common: Forget-me-not family
Genus: Anchusa (an-KOO-suh) 
Meaning: Plant used for cosmetic; as a rouge perhaps
Species: officinalis (oh-fiss-ih-NAH-liss)
Meaning: Official - used in pharmacological sense

Common bugloss forms a basal rosette in the 1st year, with a single flowering stalk the 2nd year.  It produces multiple hairy stalks ranging from 1 to 2 feet tall in suceeding years.

The narrow leaves are fleshy, succulent, slightly pointed and progressively smaller as they grow up the stem.

Its small flowers are blue to purple in color with a white center and grow at the end of the stems.  Bloomtime is from late spring to early fall. Each flower produces a four chambered nutlet, each chamber contains one seed.

Common bugloss has a very deep, stout taproot.

A single plant may produce up to 900 seeds per year.

 Why Is it a Noxious Weed?

Common bugloss is a threat to agriculture and competes with more desirable vegetation such as native plants or crops. The fleshy stalks can cause baled hay to mold.  

Where Does it Grow? It prefers sandy gravelly soils. It invades alfalfa fields, pastures, and waste areas. Since the seeds of this plant can remain dormant for many years, it can become a persistent weed problem.


Its bristly hairs may cause skin irritation. This plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloid, the same alkaloid found in Tansy Ragwort though in much smaller amounts. In large quantities it causes liver damage leading to cirrhosis of the liver. 


Control Options:
  • The most effective control of Common Bugloss is prevention. Above all, prevent plants from going to seed.
  • Large, woody tap roots make Common Bugloss very difficult to remove manually. Small infestations can be dug out with a pick or mattock, removing as much root as possible. Be careful to dispose of all the pieces of roots and crown to prevent them from re-establishing.
  • Spot spraying at bud stage, prior to blooming with an herbicide containing glyphosate or 2, 4 D (such as Weedmaster and many others) works best in controlling Common Bugloss.
  • When using herbicides, carefully read and follow all label instructions and obey all label precautions. 
  • To minimize any harmful impact on bees and other pollinators, timing is important.  Ideally, treat plants before blooming.  If treatment after blooming is necessary, do control work early in the morning, or in the evening when bees are less active.


More Information:

For more information on this noxious weed Download our Flyer or visit Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board Here. Photo by Leo Michels


More Pictures:  

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