[Gromwells and Puccoons: The Genus Lithospermum East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

Columbia Puccoon, Columbian Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed

Lithospermum ruderale

Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum

Gray hairstreak nectaring on Puccoon, Stoneseed, Gromwell: Lithospermum ruderale

The photo above shows the attractive flowers of puccoon with a nectaring gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) as seen above the mouth of the Deschutes River in the eastern Columbia River Gorge.........April 24, 2005.

Characteristics:

Puccoon is a perennial flower of some attractive nature with multiple leafy stems arising 20-60 cm high from a woody base. The stems are lax or almost prostrate to ascending. The leaves are all found on the stiffly haired stems, the lower ones largely reduced with the upper leaves numerous with sessile bases. Individual leaves are lanceolate to linear in shape and range from 3-10 cm long and 2-10 mm wide.

The flowers are clustered among leafy bracts in the upper axils. The flowers are 5-lobed with a light greenish-yellow coloration. The flowers are 8-13 mm long with the tube 4-6 mm long and the limb 7-13 mm wide. The corolla tube is glandular within the tip. Each flower produces 4 cone-shaped, hard and stony nutlets or seeds.

The genus name Lithospermum means stony (Litho-) seed (-sperm) in reference to the stony seeds or nutlets.

Puccoon was widely used as medicine by the Plains Indians. The roots were eaten when cooked and also were a remedy for respiratory ailments.


Habitat:

Puccoon may be found in a variety of open, fairly dry places in the foothills and grasslands to moderate elevations in the mountains. It may be found in sandy, gravelly and deep loam soils.


Range:

Puccoon may be found from southern British Columbia south to the east of the Cascades to northern California and thence east to southern Colorado. It is occasionally found in drier open places in the Puget trough.


Puccoon, Stoneseed, Gromwell: Lithospermum ruderale - Columbia Puccoon, Columbian Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonyms: Lithospermum lanceolatum, Lithospermum pilosum, Lithospermum ruderale var. lanceolatum)

Puccoon as seen at left near the top of east-facing slopes on Burch Mt., several miles north of Wenatchee, WA.........June 6, 2009. The photo at right shows puccoon in bloom on gravelly slopes above the north side of Dry Creek on DNR lands about one mile upstream of Wenas Creek, Yakima County, WA......May 29, 2022.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Columbian Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonyms: Lithospermum lanceolatum, Lithospermum pilosum, Lithospermum ruderale var. lanceolatum)

Puccoon as seen at left along the Fremont National Recreation Trail #160 on the northwest-facing slopes of Hager Mountain, Fremont National Forest..........May 19, 2016. The photo at right shows puccoon as seen along the Stubblefield Trail, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge......May 8, 2019.

Lithospermum ruderale - Lithospermum ruderale

This photo shows the axillary flowers nestled at the base of the leaves of puccoon as seen along Forest Road #4650 at the eastern side of Chief Joseph Canyon in the northern Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.........June 26, 2008.

Developing fruits of Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Columbian Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonyms: Lithospermum lanceolatum, Lithospermum pilosum, Lithospermum ruderale var. lanceolatum)

Maturing fruits of puccoon as seen at left on east-facing slopes to the west of Hot Springs Campground, Hart Mt. National Antelope Refuge..........June 9, 2016. The photo at right shows puccoon in bloom along the Fremont National Recreation Trail #160 on the northeastern slopes of Crook Peak, Fremont-Winema National Forest......June 28, 2019.

Paul Slichter