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Vascular Plants of California
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Lithospermum ruderale

Higher Taxonomy
Family: BoraginaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, or shrub, often bristly or sharp-hairy. Stem: prostrate-decumbent to erect. Leaf: basal and/or cauline, simple, generally alternate, sometimes opposite, especially at base. Inflorescence: cymes, arranged singly or in groups of 2--5, generally coiled in flower, generally elongating in fruit. Flower: bisexual, generally radial; sepals 5, free or fused at least at base; corolla 5-lobed, salverform, funnel-shaped, rotate, or bell-shaped, appendages (often called "fornices") 0 or 5 at top of tube, when present often differentially pigmented, alternate stamens; stamens epipetalous; ovary superior, 4-lobed, style 1, entire or minutely 2-lobed (2-branched). Fruit: nutlets 1--4, when > 1, all similar (often called "homomorphic") or 1 or 2 dissimilar in size and/or shape from the others (often called "heteromorphic"), free (fused), smooth to roughened, prickly or bristly or not.
Genera In Family: +- 90 genera, +- 1600--1700 species: mostly temperate, especially western North America, Mediterranean; some cultivated (Borago, Echium, Myosotis, Symphytum). Toxicity: Many genera may be TOXIC from pyrrolizidine alkaloids or accumulated nitrates. Note: Sometimes still treated in broader sense of TJM2 (e.g., APG IV 2016 Bot J Linn Soc 181:1--20), but recent evidence (Luebert et al. 2016) supports segregation, for our flora, of the families Ehretiaceae, Heliotropiaceae, Hydrophyllaceae, Lennoaceae, and Namaceae.
eFlora Treatment Author: Michael G. Simpson, C. Matt Guilliams, Kristen Hasenstab-Lehman & Ronald B. Kelley
Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin, C. Matt Guilliams, Kristen Hasenstab-Lehman, David J. Keil, Ronald B. Kelley, Robert W. Patterson, Thomas J. Rosatti & Michael G. Simpson
Genus: LithospermumView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: STONESEED
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, hairy, taprooted, red root dye present or not. Stem: erect. Leaf: generally cauline, +- sessile, entire. Inflorescence: panicle-like cyme or flowers 1 in upper leaf axils; bracts throughout. Flower: calyx deep-5-lobed, enlarged in fruit, lobes equal; corolla 5-lobed, funnel-shaped or salverform, generally +- yellow (+- white), tube > lobes, appendages present or 0; style entire. Fruit: nutlets 1--4, 2.5--6+ mm, ovoid, plump, smooth to pitted or wrinkled, attachment scar basal.
Species In Genus: 75 species: worldwide, generally temperate, mountains. Etymology: (Greek: stone seed) Note: Heterostylous or not; cleistogamous flowers present or 0.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ronald B. Kelley
Unabridged Reference: Baker 1961 Rhodora 63:229--235, Ralston 1993 Ph.D. Dissertation Northern Arizona Univ
Lithospermum ruderale Lehm.
Habit: Perennial herb; hairs +- spreading; caudex +- woody; red root dye 0. Stem: 1--several, 2--5 dm, clustered, +- unbranched. Leaf: many, crowded; blade 3--8 cm, lanceolate to linear. Inflorescence: cymes many, dense, in upper leaf axils; pedicels 1--3 mm, +- erect in fruit. Flower: corolla 9--12 mm, 1--1.5 × calyx, 7--13 mm diam, +- salverform, pale- to green-yellow, lobes entire, appendages 0. Fruit: nutlet 5--6+ mm, wide-ovoid, +- attenuate into stout tip, smooth, shiny, +- white to pale brown. Chromosomes: 2n=24.
Ecology: Open, dry slopes, plains, sagebrush steppe, conifer forest, chaparral; Elevation: (750)1200--1800 m. Bioregional Distribution: CaRH, n SNH, MP; Distribution Outside California: northwestern North America. Flowering Time: Apr--Jun Note: Homostylous; cleistogamous flowers 0.
Jepson eFlora Author: Ronald B. Kelley
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Lithospermum ruderale

botanical illustration including Lithospermum ruderale


Citation for this treatment: Ronald B. Kelley 2012, Lithospermum ruderale, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 23, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 23, 2022.

Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2002 Larry Blakely
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2002 Larry Blakely
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2002 Larry Blakely
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 1989 Gary A. Monroe
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse

More photos of Lithospermum ruderale in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Lithospermum ruderale:
1. You can change the display of the base map layer control box in the upper right-hand corner.
2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).