LUNGWORT

Pulmonaria officinalis

Borage Family [Boraginaceae]

month8mar month8march month8apr month8april month8may

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8bicolour
flower
flower8pink flower8mauve flower8red
flower
flower8blue
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZtrumpet
stem
stem8square
toxicity
toxicityZmedium

27th April 2006, Crag Vale, Mytholmroyd, West Yorks. Photo: © RWD
Never far from a garden, it is a popular garden plant.


8th April 2010, Rowarth, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
It escapes into woods, as here, or roadside verges and hedge-banks. To 30cm tall and un-branched. Leaves few but alternate up the stem.


16th March 2007, Little Longstone, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have 5 petals and start off reddish-pink, but may change through mauve to blue.


Lost in the mists of time, Somewhere. Photo: © RWD
Leaves spotted a pale green. Flowers flare suddenly from a dark purple-brown sepal tube.


8th April 2010, Rowarth, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
A plant might have three flower stalks, each bearing half-a-dozen drooping flowers. Stems and sepal tubes have rough whitish hairs of various lengths.


27th March 2010, Adlington, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Stem is square. Flowers splay out like they do from Cowslip, avoiding one side or another.


8th April 2010, Rowarth, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The petals have faint 'water-marks' in them. Nominally with 5 petals, this blue example has six.


8th April 2010, Rowarth, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Un-opened flowers are almost red rather than pink, similar in shape and colour to those of many Comfreys. Sepal teeth equilateral triangular.


8th April 2010, Rowarth, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Basal leaves have long stalks. All leaves have short greyish hairs and pale-green spots, larger in the middle than nearer the edges.


Similar to : Narrow-Leaved Lungwort, but that has much longer leaves which are also narrow and elliptical.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

It is a perennial with grey-downy hairs such as to make it appear a bit dirty, but it may well be. You are much more likely to find this growing in or near a garden that in the wild, although it does indeed escape.

PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOIDS

It is often claimed (mainly by herb websites) that Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) does not contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA's), but this is untrue, for it is no exception at all in the Boriginaceae family in possessing PA's. In fact it contains Intermedine and its diastereoisomer (aka enantiomorph) Lycopsamine plus Symphytine, all pyrrolydizine alkaloids, and they are present in leaves, roots and rhizomes. All three of these pyrrolizidine alkaloids are poisonous (but not all PA's are). It will be seen that Symphytine is one of the PA's with a broken normally 14-membered ring.


  Pulmonaria officinalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Boraginaceae  

Distribution
 family8Borage family8Boraginaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Pulmonaria
Pulmonaria
(Lungworts)

LUNGWORT

Pulmonaria officinalis

Borage Family [Boraginaceae]