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Western Stoneseed, Columbia Puccoon, Yellow Puccoon - Lithospermum ruderale


Family: Boraginaceae - Borage family Genus Common Name: Stoneseed Native Status: NativeHerb
Lithospermum ruderale - Western Stoneseed, Columbia Puccoon, Yellow Puccoon. I did not do a lot of species comparison on this, because this is the only Lithospermum species listed by USDA as being in Idaho, where I photographed this one. It is generally a fairly upright, hairy, leafy plant, growing up to about 2 feet tall, found in more or less open areas at altitudes of about 3500 to 5500 feet.

The genus name come from the very hard, small nutlets. The Stoneseed common name also references those hard nutlets (from Latin litho = stone, and spermum = seed.) The Puccoon common name comes from the Native American (one of the Algonquian languages) word for dye, since a red dye was made from the roots of these plants. Sanguinaria canadensis is another unrelated species to which the Puccoon name is applied; its roots were also used to produce a red dye. There is a report that Lithospermum ruderale produces a yellowish dye, and others that it, along with the other Stoneseed species, produces red dye; I don't know which is correct, or if processing differences might produce different colored dyes. There is some evidence to suggest the dyes made from an eastern Lithospermum species (L. canescens) was the origin of the term Redskin for Native Americans.

Found in:
CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY

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Lithospermum ruderale

Distribution of Lithospermum ruderale in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 29 May 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2010-June-14Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D60
The five-lobed flowers are yellow, perhaps such a pale yellow as to appear almost be white. They may also have a greenish hue. They are around a half-inch across.
Lithospermum ruderale

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2010-June-14Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
The lanceolate to linear, ribbed, hairy leaves crowd the equally hairy stem (hairiness being a feature of most species in the Borage family,) and are up to around 4 inches long. The lower leaves are smaller than those higher on the stem. The leaves are usually sessile and alternate, although the leaves are so crowded on the stem that may be difficult to determine.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Lithospermum ruderale

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer