Cynoglossum virginianum (Wild Comfrey) - photos and description


Upper stem leaves in above photo

Upper stem leaf in above photo

Lower stem leaf in above photo 

Basal leaf in above photo 




Foliage is coarsely hairy

General: Rough-hairy, erect, unbranched perennials, with 1 or 2 stems from the caudex. Due to its slender growth habit and small flowers, I found this to be a difficult plant to photograph.

Flowers: Bluish-white, funnelform with 5 lobes, the flowers grow in 1 to 4 racmess on long, leafless, often arching peduncles. We measured flowers at 8 mm diameter and 7 mm long. 

Fruit: In clusters of four, obovoid, prickly nutlets, the nutlets joined at their base, with their apex rounded. The nutlets are usually found on arching or horizontal stems. We measured a single nutlet at 6 mm wide.

Leaves: Leaves are reduced upwards, alternate, the upper stem leaves are lanceolate and clasp the stem, while the lower stem leaves and basal leaves are elliptical and have long petioles. We measured a large upper stem leaf at 15 cm long by 5 cm wide, and the blade of a basal leaf at 15 cm long by 6 cm wide.

Height: Budd's Flora lists the height to 60 cm, we measured plants to 84 cm tall.

Habitat: Rich woods.

Abundance: Extremely rare, ranked as an S1 (as of 2021) by the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre. It has only been found in the province in Moose Mountain Provincial Park. 

Origin: Native.

Similar species: This plant might be mistaken for two other plants in the Borage family - both of which are rough hairy and have small pale blue flowers, Mertensia paniculata (Tall Lungwort), and Hackelia floribunda (Stickseed).

Cynoglossum virginianum can be identified by its upper leaves clasping the stem, its flowers borne on long, leafless flower stalks, and its fruit growing on long arching or horizontal stems.

Synonym: Listed in some of the field guides we use as Cynoglossum boreale.  

When and where photographed: Photos taken June 19th and 28th, rich, moist aspen woods, Moose Mountain Provincial Park, about 200 km southeast of our home in Regina, SK.