Working together to strengthen and support noxious weed management efforts in Montana.


Blueweed: MSU March Monthly Weed Post

Thursday, March 10th, 2011


Blueweed is the noxious weed featured in the March monthly post from MSU.   Download and read this informative publication.  The last page includes a crossword puzzle to quiz yourself on your blueweed knowledge. Visit the MWCA Weed ID page for details about the weed.  At this time is is only known to be in six counties, if you think you find it contact your local weed coordinator.

Weed of the Week – Blueweed

Thursday, August 12th, 2010


Blueweed - photo by Kellieanne Morris, Ravalli County MT Weed District

Blueweed - photo by Kellieanne Morris, Ravalli County MT Weed District


Blueweed or viper’s bugloss is native to Europe and has invaded much of the eastern U.S. and parts of the western U.S.  The first record of this plant in Montana was in 1916.  It was listed as a category 2 noxious weed on our state list in March of 2008.  Blueweed thrives in gravel bars along rivers and also does well in irrigated pastures.

Blueweed can be toxic to horses, sheep, and cattle.  The hairs that cover the plant may also act as a skin irritant for humans.  This plant can become quite large greatly reducing the productivity of grazable lands due to it being unpalatable.  It has the potential to ruin hay due to its high moisture content.  It also has the ability to destroy wildlife habitat and native plant biodiversity.  It reproduces by seeds that stick to clothing, animal fur, and feathers and may also be disperse by flowing water.  Each plant produces between 500 and 2000 seeds.

Blueweed is most easily identified by its bell shaped flowers that come in shades of blue, pink, and purple.  The flowers bloom a few at a time in a scorpoid raceme (resembles a scorpion’s tail).  Four or five, usually pink stamen stick out from the center of the bell shaped flowers.  Blueweed is a biennial, meaning that it lives for two years.  The first year that this plant emerges it is in the form of a rosette.  Second year plants typically bolt and produce flowers.  The stems are a grayish-green color and are covered with hairs and black dots.  The leaves are lance shaped and are also covered with hairs.  The plant can be anywhere from 5 inches to 3 feet in height.  From a distance it may resemble lupine.

What can you do?

This tap rooted plant can be hand pulled (with gloves and long sleeved shirts) or dug up with good results in small infestations.  Mowing can help to reduce the seed production if repeated throughout the growing season but is not a long term solution.  Herbicide is an effective control method when applied correctly.  Call your local weed district for recommendations on herbicides.  As always an integrated weed management plan utilizing all effective means of control and revegetation is the best option for reducing and eradicating blueweed.  If you have any questions about blueweed or any other noxious weeds call your local weed district.

Visit the MWCA Weed ID pages for additional information and pictures of blueweed.

This series of articles was developed by Ravalli County.  If you would like to use these articles please contact Ravalli County Weed District Weed Coordinator at (406) 777-5842.

Biology, Ecology and Management of Blueweed (Echium vulgare L.)

Monday, April 5th, 2010


MSU has done it again!   A new publication about Blueweed.

Blueweed (Echium vulgare), a member of the Boraginacae family, was introduced from southern Europe and is now widely distributed throughout North America. It is a biennial to short-lived perennial. Blueweed has bright blue flowers with pink-to-red stamens and is covered with bristly hairs. It reproduces by seed only. This species is typically found in disturbed areas and overgrazed range or pastureland. It thrives in sandy, well-drained soils with low nutrient levels and tolerates dry conditions. It has also been found in irrigated, well-maintained pastures. The plant is not considered palatable to livestock, and it has toxic alkaloids that can cause liver failure. Early detection of new plants is very important. Small infestations can be managed by hand-pulling or digging, while larger infestations can be treated with herbicides.

Download your copy of this 12 page full color booklet.

Viper’s Bugloss: Biology & Management of a New Invader on Rangeland

Friday, October 23rd, 2009


Published in WSWS Proceedings, 2007, Portland, OR.

Celestine A. Duncan, Bill Kral, Bryce Christiaens, and Rob Johnson

Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare L.) is a biennial to short-lived taprooted perennial in the borage family.  The plant grows 2 to 3 feet tall, and both stems and leaves are covered with stiff trichomes that emerge from a bulbous base. Brilliant blue flowers are borne on a thyrse, and produce from 500 to 2000 seeds per plant.  Viper’s bugloss contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids poisonous to livestock. The plant is native to Europe preferring dry, coarse textured, rocky soils. It is established in temperate zones worldwide especially along transportation corridors, overgrazed pastures, and rangeland.

Link to Full Article