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Environmental Studies

Lithospermum incisum (Fringed Puccoon) Boraginaceae

The Yellow Puccoon

Madison Julius Cawein :

Who could describe you, child of mystery 
And silence, born among these solitudes? 
Within whose look there is a secrecy, 
Old as these wanderingwoods, 
And knowledge, cousin to the morning-star, 
Beyond the things that mar, 
And earth itself that on the soul intrudes. 

How many eons what antiquity 
Went to your making? When the world was young 
You yet were old. What mighty company 
Of cosmic forces swung 
About you! On what wonders have you gazed 
Since first your head was raised 
To greet the Power that here your seed-spore flung! 

The butterfly that woos you, and the bee 
That quits the mandrakes’ cups to whisper you, 
Are in your confidence and sympathy, 
As sunlight is and dew, 
And the soft music of this woodland stream, 
Telling the trees its dream, 
That lean attentive its dim face unto. 

With bluet, larkspur, and anemone 
Your gold conspires to arrest the eye, 
Making it prisoner unto Fantasy 
And Vision, none’ll deny! 
That lead the mind (as children lead the blind 
Homeward by ways that wind) 
To certainties of love that round it lie. 

The tanager, in scarlet livery, 
Out-flaunts you not in bravery, amber-bright 
As is the little moon of Faërie, 
That glows with golden light 
From out a firmament of green, as you 
From out the moss and dew 
Glimmer your starry disc upon my sight. 

If I might know you, have you, as the bee 
And butterfly, in some more intimate sense 
Or, like the brook there talking to the tree, 
Win to your confidence 
Then might I grasp it, solve it, in some wise, 
This riddle in disguise 
Named Life, through you and your experience.

The Fringed Puccoon has a rather unique flower with five yellow petals that are wavy. This species has simple alternate leaves, and can grow from 6 inches to about a foot and a half. The fringed puccoon requires rather dry soil, and is usually found in prairies and savannas.

Physical characteristics


 Leaf: The leaves simple alternate and between two and four inches in length.

Flower: The flowers actually change as the season progresses. They are first large, wide, showy yellow flower; that eventually form a funnel and a much smaller flower. each flower has five petals.

Seeds: Each flower contains four small fruits, each which contains one seed.

Shape: The Fringed Puccoon is a rather erect plant with a terminal flower.

Stem: Non-woody and pubescent.

Life span: It is unclear how long this species lives but at least three years.


Ecological characteristics

The Fringed Puccoon can be found in about 25 western states and five Canadian Provinces. As long as the soil isn’t to moist and the sun is in abundance this species can survive. It is a beloved flower in Kansas due to its beauty and history.


The Fringed Puccoon has a rather wide range across the United States and Canada. Due to the soil conditions and amount of sunlight the plant requires. It cannot survive extreme cold, although it can survive in the American Southwest.

Fringed Puccoon Distribution

Importance to the ecosystem

The Fringed Puccoon is important to the ecosystem mainly due to its hardiness. It can survive in fields that would otherwise be overtaken by weeds and non-native plants. It also grows in mainly sandy soils, which are easily eroded. The roots help give structure to the soil, and prevent erosion. 

The plant mater is also eaten by insects and mammals.

Relationship with other species

Non-human: The flower is occasionally used for grazing by animals, and is self pollenating. 

Humans: Native Americans found many uses for the species, mainly in the roots. They used the root for many medical uses, mainly for a cold and cough. It’s Purplish root was also used as die, in history purple has only been worn by the very wealth due to the expense to make the color.

Other interesting facts

  • Even though the Fringed Puccoon is rather restricted to its ecosystem type, it is able to survive in almost every state west of the Appalachian mountains.

  • The flower changes its shape as it matures every season. 
  • This species was named the Kansas wild flower of the year in 2008.







Page drafted by Eric Matiasek