[Gromwells and Puccoons: The Genus Lithospermum in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed

Lithospermum ruderale

Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum

Gray hairstreak nectaring on Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

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.

Flower of Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)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.

In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations of 200'-3000' from Dog Mt. east to the eastern end of the Gorge.


Inflorescence of Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

The photo at left shows a close-up of the flower cluster of puccoon as seen at Horsethief Butte in the Columbia River Gorge..........April 9, 2009. The photo at left shows a cluster of leafy stems arising from the ground on southeast-facing slopes of Sevenmile Hill, several miles northwest of The Dalles, Oregon.........March 8, 2015..

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) -

Puccoon blooming amongst Columbia Gorge lupines and balsamroots above Devils Gap, Columbia Hills State Park..........April 14, 2013.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

A close-up of the tooth-like seeds of puccoon as seen from the northwest corner of the Columbia Hills State Park........October 18, 2015.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Photographed on Washington Department of Natural Resources land along Horseshoe Bend Road, mid-Klickitat River Gorge.................May 8, 2011.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

A close-up of an early-blooming example of puccoon as seen (left) on slopes above Klickitat Springs in the middle Klickitat River drainage..............April 12, 2011. The photo at right shows a close-up of the flowers of puccoon as seen high in the Collumbia Hills NAP..........March 25, 2016.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Puccoon blooming high in the northwestern corner of the Columbia Hills State Park...........April 12, 2014.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Early blooming puccoon as seen high in the northwestern corner of the Columbia Hills State Park.........March 24, 2014.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Fowers of Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Puccoon beginning to bloom in the northwest corner of the Columbia Hills State Park........April 16, 2015.

A domestic honey bee pollinating flowers of Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Puccoon in bloom and being pollinated by a domestic honeybee as seen atop the Mill Creek Ridge Preserve, Columbia Land Trust lands southwest of The Dalles, OR.......April 22, 2018.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Puccoon as seen at left along the Memaloose Trail east of Mosier, Oregon...........March 27, 2015. The photo at right shows blooming puccoon at the Mill Creek Ridge Preserve, a Columbia Land Trust property........April 28, 2019.

Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum) - Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

Puccoon in bloom along the Memaloose Trail on Castilleja Hill, Columbia River Gorge........April 21, 2017.

Sideview of the flowers of Columbia Puccoon, Puccoon, Western Gromwell, Western Stoneseed: Lithospermum ruderale (Synonym: Lithospermum pilosum)

A close-up sideview of the flowers and narrow calyx lobes of puccoon from just east of the mouth of the Deschutes River, OR..........4/12/2001. Note the long, narrow calyx lobes.

Paul Slichter