Helminthia echioides

Botanical Name :  Helminthia echioides
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe:     Cichorieae
Genus:     Helminthotheca
Species: H. echioides
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class:     Magnoliopsida
Order:     Asterales

Synonyms : Picris echioides

Common Names ;Ox-Tongue, Bristly ox-tongue

Habitat : Helminthotheca echioides is native to the Mediterranean Basin, but has become widely naturalised outside that range. In the British Isles, it is widely distributed in the south and east, but more patchily distributed to the north and west. In Northern Ireland, H. echioides is only found on the north side of Belfast Lough.

It has been introduced to North America, where it can now be found from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and California.

Description:
Helminthia echioides is an annual/biennial plant growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in), with a thick, furrowed stem and spreading branches. The leaves are 10–20 cm (4–8 in) long, oblanceolate with a short petiole. The leaves, branches and stem are all covered in thick bristles. The inflorescences are 2–3.5 cm (0.8–1.4 in) wide and subtended by between 3 and 5 large ovate-cordate involucral bracts. These large bracts are the defining feature of the genus Helminthotheca.
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A number of infraspecific taxa are recognised, varying in their leaf shape.

It is somewhat stout and coarse, the sturdy stems attaining a height of from 2 to 3 feet, branching freely and covered with short, stiff hairs, each of which springs from a raised spot and is hooked at the end.

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The lower leaves are much longer than the upper, of lanceolate or spear-head form, with their margins coarsely and irregularly toothed and waved. The upper leaves are small and stalkless, heart-shaped and clasping the stem with their bases. All the leaves are of a greyish-green hue and very tough to the touch.

The flower-heads are ordinarily somewhat clustered together on short stalks and form an irregular, terminal mass at the ends of the main stems. The involucre, or ring of bracts from which the florets spring, is doubled outside the ring of eight to ten narrow and nearly erect scales, simple in form and thin in texture, is an outer ring composed of a smaller number of spiny bracts of a broad heart-shape, in their roughness of surface and general character resembling the leaves of the plant. The combination of the inner and outer bracts may be roughly compared to a cup and saucer, and gives the plant a singular appearance.

The Ox Tongue is in blossom during June and July; all the florets of the flower-heads, as in the Dandelion, are of a rich golden yellow.

Cultivation:    
Succeeds in most soils. Dislikes shade. Wild plants are an indicator of calcareous soils. Seed is often produced apomictically. Any seedlings from this seed will be genetically identical to the parent plant.

Propagation:   
Seed – sow spring in situ, only just covering the seed. Germination should take place quite quickly.

Medicinal Uses:
Information is not available.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helminthotheca_echioides
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/o/oxtong17.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Picris+echioides

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