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Environmental Studies

Lithospermum canescens (Hoary Puccoon) Boraginaceae

The hoary puccoon is often found in rich habitats and is native to eastern North America. Its stems and leaves are covered with long white hairs, hence it’s name. It has prominent golden yellow flowers which bloom from April to May. 

Physical characteristics

Leaf: The alternately arranged leaves are 1-2” long and 1/2 inch wide each. They are oblong with rounded tips, and have a prominent central vein. The leaf is entirely covered by hair.

"L.S. of pin and thrum flowers, 2X"

Flower | Seeds: The flowers occur at the ends of the stem and are bright yellow or yellowish orange. The petals originate from the stem in a tubular structure before spanning outward in to a showy array of 5 petals. The flowers are also conspicuous; meaning, they are rarely visited by insects. The flowers has no noticeable scents.
The seeds are hard coated and hence the name Lithospermum, meaning stone (lithos) - seed (sperma).

Stems: They have rounded stem which are covered with long white hairs.

Life span: Very hard to germinate from its seeds. It is perennial.

Ecological characteristics

Lithospermum canescens prefers to live in prairies with rich soils. They prefer to have lots of sun and therefore may be less prevalent in prairies with invasive tree species.

Distribution range

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Best Range Map available at time of research.

Importance to the ecosystem

Puccoon ReferenceResearch has found almost no references to  ecosystem importance. However, its vibrant petals and roots may provide nutritional value to plants after it dies a decays.

Relationship with other species

Non-human: The hoary puccoon uses other plants to germinate its seed. That said, it may draw nutrients from other plants and may or may not kill the host plant

Humans: The hoary puccoon has medicinal uses including using its leaves for tea to treat fevers accompanied by spasms by direct application to the body.

Pests: The hoary puccoon has these insect visitors:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus fervida sn (Mc), Bombus fraternus sn, Bombus griseocallis sn (Mc), Bombus impatiens sn (Rb, Mc), Bombus pensylvanica sn fq; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora ursina sn fq; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia belfragei sn, Synhalonia illinoensis sn, Synhalonia speciosa sn fq icp; Anthophoridae (Melectini): Melecta thoracica sn fq; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada obliterata sn, Nomada ovatus sn, Nomada superba superba sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia atriventris sn cp fq, Osmia cordata sn, Osmia distincta sn cp, Osmia illinoensis sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum pectoralis (Re), Lasioglossum pilosus (Re)

Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps sn, Bombylius major sn fq

Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis sn, Phyciodes tharos sn, Vanessa atalanta sn, Vanessa virginiensis sn; Lycaenidae: Lycaeides melissa samuelis sn (GP), Lycaena hyllus sn; Pieridae: Colias philodice sn fq, Pieris rapae sn; Papilionidae: Papilio marcellus sn fq, Papilio polyxenes asterias sn

Hesperiidae: Erynnis baptisiae sn, Erynnis brizo sn, Erynnis icelus sn fq, Erynnis juvenalis sn, Erynnis martialis sn, Hesperia leonardus leonardus sn (Re), Pholisora catullus sn

Noctuidae: Anagrapha falcifera sn

Buprestidae: Acmaeodera ornata (McR), Acmaeodera tubulus (McR)

Other interesting facts

  • The hoary puccoon is assumed extripated from the New York region.

  • The roots have been used to dye chewing gum red.

  • Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. It is best sown in a soilless medium[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings. Division.


  • http://www.restoringthelandscape.com/2012/01/native-plant-of-week-hoary-puccoon.html
  • http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lithospermum+canescens

Page drafted by Casper Clausen