Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum)

Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum)
Images courtesy Tim Butler
Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum)
Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum)
EDRR Species?: 
Yes

Other common names
Salvation Jane, Riverina bluebell

Description
An erect annual or biennial member of the borage family, generally 1 to 3 feet tall. Plants are often multi-branched with an abundance of stout hairs on stems and leaves. Reproduction and spread is by seed. Stems are erect, light-green, bristly, stout, and branching mainly toward the top. Leaves are green to light-green, alternate, hairy and thick. Flowers are most often blue-purple in color, but may be pink or white. Flowers are borne on a fiddleneck-like inflorescence. Blooming usually starts in June, but some flowering plants can be found at any time of the year. Two of the five stamens in the flower are longer and project significantly from the joined corolla. Each flower produces four brown or gray nutlet seeds surrounded by a husk covered in bristles that give a fuzzy appearance.

Impacts
Poisonous to grazing animals and a threat to natural areas. Contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that cause chronic liver damage and death to susceptible animals. Paterson's curse is a prolific seed producer, enabling rapid spread and displacement of pasture, range and desirable plants. It is a threat to native habitat with the potential to invade oak woodland, native prairie, and dry upland slopes. Handling plants can cause mild to severe skin irritation and hay fever in some individuals.