Thursday, May 27, 2010

Viper's Buglos / Slangehoved

Echium vulgare

Viper's buglos is native to most of Europe and west and central Asia. This wildflower is found on disturbed dry soils, dunes, shingle, cliffs and open grassland. It is a good nectar plant, attracting lots of bees. On warm days the brilliant blue flowers are covered in honey bees and bumblebees.

Other names are Blue Devil, Blueweed, Thistle and Viper's Grass. The genus name echium comes from the Greek word Ekbis = viper. The viper part of the name may derive from the spotted stem said to recall marks on a snake, or an imagined resemblance between the flower-head and the head of a snake. Viper's buglos is an example of a wildflower that received a frightening name based simply on its looks. Some people thought that the plante created a hiding place for snakes or that the plant was guilty of other serpent-related qualities.

A red dye is obtained from the root.

Actually Viper's buglos was once considered to be a preventive and remedy for snake bites. Traditional the leaves of the plant were boiled and made into a tea which helped fevers and headaches or made into an infusion for nervous complaints.

photo June 2007: grethe bachmann, Jernhatten, Djursland


MyMaracas said...

It's surprising that such a pretty plant would have been associated somehow with vipers. I like the lore and medicinal uses you've included. Very interesting post.

Thyra said...

Thanks! I wish there was much more information about lore and medicinal. If you used the lore back then you were considered either a witch or a wise woman!