Date of this Version
HortScience 39(5):1153-1154, 2004.
Lithospermums are a group of spring-flowering herbs that belong to the Boraginaceae Juss. Correll and Johnston (1977) reported there are about 40 species of Lithospermum L. in North America and an additional 20 species outside of North America. Flower color can vary from yellow to greenish-yellow, to orange or white, depending on species. There are four species native to the Great Plains: L. carolinense MacMill., L. canescens (Michx.) Lehm., L. latifolium Michx., and L incisum Lehm. Lithospermum arvense L., non Bove ex DC., Ledeb. nor Thunb. is an introduced, naturalized species of the Great Plains, native to Eurasia. Lithospermum is from the Greek word lithos meaning stone and sperma, meaning a seed. Puccoon is a Native American common name or these plants from which a purple dye was extracted from their roots. Plants usually have two types of flowers. Chasmogamous flowers develop early in the spring, and have conspicuous petals (corollas) with little seed production. Cleistogamous flowers are produced in late spring and summer and have inconspicuous petals (corollas) but have higher fertility levels. Cleistogamous flowers have little ornamental value.