Lithospermum latifolium (American Gromwell)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Stoneseed, Broad-leaved Gromwell
Genus:Lithospermum
Family:Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods, thickets, shaded river banks
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:16 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flower] Single, short-stalked flowers in the upper leaf axils and at the tips of branching stems. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch across, pale yellow to creamy white, with 5 oval petals fused at the base and forming a short tube. Inside the tube are 5 stamens surrounding a short style.

[photo of flower calyx] The calyx behind the flower has 5 narrow, hairy lobes about as long as the tube. Branches elongate with maturity, with flowers mostly open at the end of a branch while fruit forms in the axils below it.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, 2 to 5 inches long and ¾ to 2 inches wide, lance to egg-shaped, toothless, tapering to a pointed tip, with prominent veins and little or no stalk. The upper leaf surface is darker green with sparse scattered hairs, the lower surface lighter green with short, dense white hairs. Stems are light green and covered in short, stiff hairs. Plants are erect at the base, typically with spreading arch-like branches in the upper plant, but may be unbranched.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Each flower is replaced by a shiny, hard, white nutlet, generally oval to egg-shaped and 1/8 to 1/6 inch long.

Notes:

American Gromwell is the least common of Minnesota's native puccoons with infrequent and scattered populations, mostly in east central and southeastern forests and less frequently in scattered woodlots in west central counties. Populations have likely declined over time due to loss of its woodland habitat to development, lumbering, agriculture and woodland invasive species like buckthorn and garlic mustard.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Richard T. Anderson Conservation Area, Hennepin County. Photos courtesy Brian O'Brien taken at Sakatah Lake State Park, Le Sueur County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Eric - Stearns Co.
on: 2016-05-06 17:57:07

Found scattered in a few places north of Clearwater Lake.

Posted by: kathleen - Wykoff Balsam Fir SNA (few hundred yds from the sign)
on: 2016-05-29 07:42:06

There were several plants along the side of the trail shortly after starting to hike in from the parking lot.

Posted by: Ann L - Todd County
on: 2018-01-07 10:06:45

I have found this plant in central Todd County. I have also seen a plant that looks identical to this but with 6 petals instead of five. Since I have found nothing else that looks like this, am I safe to assume that it is also American Gromwell, just with 6 petals?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-01-07 11:28:34

Ann, members of the Borage family have 5 petals. A plant with all 6 petaled flowers would be very unusual.

Posted by: Ann L - Todd County
on: 2018-01-08 13:19:26

I understand that borage plants can have isolated 6 petaled blossoms, especially early in the year.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-01-09 05:10:15

In your first comment it sounded like the whole plant had 6-petaled flowers, which would be unusual. A random flower having an atypical number of petals is not so unusual. It happens often enough with many species.

Posted by: Rob Freeman - Todd County
on: 2018-09-10 21:23:53

Found a large population of this 20 feet by 20 feet and increasing in an old wooded pasture on 9/8/18 Kandota Township

Posted by: luciearl - Steele County
on: 2020-09-26 23:12:50

Found these on the trail near Mineral Springs Park.

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