E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Cynoglossum officinale L.
common hound's-tongue (gypsyflower)
Boraginaceae (Borage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Werner Eigelsreiter  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #7122)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Cynoglossum officinale
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Hound's tongue is an introduced species in North America that originates in eastern Europe and western Asia (Zouhar 2002, Global Invasive Species Database 2007). It is widely distributed throughout Europe, although absent in the 'southernmost regions' (Zouhar 2002). In North America, "herbarium specimens of houndstongue were collected in Ontario as early as 1859 and in the western provinces between 1922 and 1934. Houndstongue was noted in 1884 as "common" around Montreal, and as "a pest" in Ontario" (Zouhar 2002). Today, it is found in Canada from British Columbia east to Quebec and across the continental US, exclusive of some southern states (USDA 2012). In British Columbia, Hound's tongue is primarily reported from the south-central and southeastern part of the province.

Hound's tongue is found in disturbed sites that includes roadsides, rangeland, old fields, meadows, forest margins, riparian corridors, and coastal sand dunes (Global Invasive Species Database 2007). Zoutar (2002) says: "In British Columbia it is found on sites that are characterized by hot, dry summers and cold winters, with annual precipitation in the range of 11 to 18 inches (268-448 mm), and mean January and July temperatures of approximately 21 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 and 22 ÂșC), respectively."

This is a biennial (sometimes annual) herb from a taproot. Flowers are maroon-coloured. Although it has spiny, barbed seeds, dispersal is primarily by wind (Zouhar 2002). It is not a seed banking species; seeds are viable for up to two years (Zouhar 2002). Zouhar (2002) indicates that this is a fire-resistant and fire-following species--fire creates conditions suitable for its establishment (although severe fire may prevent establishment).

In British Columbia, this is considered a noxious weed.

Read the BC Ministry of Agriculture information page on this species.

Species Information

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Biennial herb from a taproot, long soft-hairy or greyish-downy throughout; stems single, leafy to the top, 0.3-1.2 m tall.
Basal and lowermost stem leaves oblanceolate or narrowly elliptic, tapering to stalks, 10-30 cm long, 2-5 cm wide; middle and upper leaves numerous, unstalked and more oblong or lanceolate, gradually reduced upward, alternate, entire.
Inflorescence of numerous curved wands (false racemes) from upper leaf axils; corollas dull reddish-purple (maroon); petals fused at base into short (5-8 mm long) broad tube that spreads (about 1 cm wide) at top to 5 rounded lobes, with 5 rounded bulges sticking out at the throat; mature calyces 5-8 mm long at maturity.
Nutlets 4, clustered together but spreading wide when ripe, egg-shaped, 5-7 mm long, covered with barb-tipped prickles.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry disturbed areas in the lowland, steppe and lower montane zones; common E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; introduced from Europe.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Cynoglossum officinale

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 280 797 1709
Slope Gradient (%) 0 16 75
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 213 335
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(7), ICH(3), IDF(51), MS(1), PP(18), SBS(2)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References