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Vascular Plants of California
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Lithospermum ruderale

Higher Taxonomy
Family: BoraginaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to shrub or small tree, or non-green root parasite, often bristly or sharp-hairy. Stem: prostrate to erect. Leaf: basal and/or cauline, generally simple, generally alternate. Inflorescence: generally cymes, or panicle-, raceme-, head-, or spike-like, generally coiled in flower (often described as scorpioid), generally elongating in fruit, or flowers 1--2 per axil. Flower: bisexual, generally radial; sepals (4)5(10), fused at least at base, or free; corolla (4)5(10)-lobed, salverform, funnel-shaped, rotate, or bell-shaped, generally without scales at tube base, with 0 or 5 appendages at tube top, alternate stamens; stamens epipetalous; ovary generally superior, entire to 4-lobed, style 1(2), entire or 2-lobed or -branched. Fruit: valvate or circumscissile capsule or nutlets 1--4, free (fused), smooth to roughened, prickly or bristly or not.
Genera In Family: +- 120 genera, +- 2300 species: tropics, temperate, especially western North America, Mediterranean; some cultivated (Borago, Heliotropium, Echium, Myosotis, Nemophila, Phacelia, Symphytum, Wigandia). Toxicity: Many genera may be TOXIC from pyrrolizidine alkaloids or accumulated nitrates. Note: Recently treated to include Hydrophyllaceae, Lennoaceae. Wigandia urens added, as naturalized.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ronald B. Kelley, Robert Patterson, Richard R. Halse & Timothy C. Messick, family description, key to genera, treatment of genera by Ronald B. Kelley, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Ronald B. Kelley, Robert Patterson, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin, David J. Keil.
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 June 17, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 17, 2021.

Lithospermum ruderale
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© 1989 Gary A. Monroe
Lithospermum ruderale
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© 2008 Steve Matson
Lithospermum ruderale
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2008 Steve Matson
Lithospermum ruderale
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Lithospermum ruderale
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© 2002 Larry Blakely

More photos of Lithospermum ruderale in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Lithospermum ruderale:
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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).


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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).