Houndstongue

(Cynoglossum officinale)

I have included Houndstongue because it is a widespread native plant with many of the same medicinal uses of Comfrey. I am not all that familiar with the plant, so the information and photographs have been gleaned from books such as The Physician's desk Reference for Herbal Medicine. The pictures have been gathered from copyright free internet sites. I have given credit to the photographers. If any images contained here are copyrighted, please let me know, and I will remove them immediately.

Other Names:
Dog's Tongue, Gypsy Flower, Rats and Mice (Due to it's smell)

Range:

Family:
Boraginaceae, Borage or Forget-me-not Family

Growth Type:
This a biennial herbaceous plant.

Height:
The plant grows 30 - 80 cm high and up to 1 cm thick.

Leaves:
The shoots are gray-green and smell of mice. The lower leaves are in rosettes, which form a tough, coriaceous sheath at the base. The upper leaves are sessile and clasping.

Stem/Trunk:
The stems are usually rigidly erect, angular, hairy and heavily foliated. They are 30 - 80 cm high and up to 1 cm thick.

Root:
The taproot is 10 - 30 cm long and up to 1.5 cm thick. It is reddish colored with a few fibers.

Flower Season:
Summer

Flower Appearance:
The flowers are on short, bent pedicles, which after flowering, grow to 1.5 cm. The corolla is cup-shaped and larger than the calyx. The corolla is initially dark violet, then dull brown. It is occasionally white with thickened, velvety purple or light red, tubular scales. The nutlets are flat, ovoid and light brown. They are 5 - 7 mm wide, thickened at the edge, and covered with barbs.

Seed/Fruit:
The nutlets are flat, ovoid and light brown. They are 5 - 7 mm wide, thickened at the edge, and covered with barbs.

Miscellaneous characteristics:
N/A

Habitat:
Throughout North America, in wet places, waste areas, hedge rows

Parts Used:
Leaves, stems, roots

Uses:
Wild Food Uses:
None. Like Comfrey, Houndstongue contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. It is therefore not recommended for internal use. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are hepatotoxic, and hepatocarcinogenic in effect. Meaning they are toxic and cancer causing to the liver.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
This plant is used medicinally. It contains Allantoin, a compound which aids in cellular regeneration. It is therefore quite effective at healing wounds. The Physician's Desk Reference For Herbal Medicines also lists usages such as antidiarrheal, and an expectorant. It further says it has been used as an analgesic, both internally, and externally, and as a cough sedative, although I think the author meant cough suppressant.

Houndstongue supposedly functions just as well as comfrey, but is much more readily found in the wild. I cannot attest to this fact, as I have not used the plant. It was brought to my attention by an acquaintance.

Like comfrey, C. officinale contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. It is therefore not recommended for internal use. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are hepatotoxic, and hepatocarcinogenic in effect. Meaning they are toxic and cancer causing to the liver. There have been studies where rats were injected with enormous amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, and some developed liver failure, while others developed cancer of the liver. For years, I have used Comfrey, another plant containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, with no ill effects.

Medicinal Actions:
Anticatarrhial, Antidiarrheal, Antimitotic, Antitussive, Astringent, Expectorant, Vulnerary

Photos by Richard Old. xidservices.com

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These pictures are not my own, they are gathered from that I think are copyright free locations on the internet. In the event I have inadvertently used a copyrighted photograph, please contact me, and I will immediately remove it from this site.