Echium vulgare

Viper's bugloss

Also known as:


Family: Boraginaceae

Origin: Eurasia

Close up of Vipers Bugloss flowers.
Viper's bugloss flowers are pink when they are young and then mature to blue in colour. Flowers appear from spring to mid-summer.
Photo credit: Jackie Miles and Max Campbell

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Not a legally declared pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Erect biennial or perennial herb < 1.2. m tall. Stems are stiff and covered in bristly hairs. Leaves are hairy, stalkless and initially < 15 cm long, elongated and produced in a basal rosette, with bumpy upper surfaces. Later leaves are borne on the stem and are smaller and alternate. Flowers are pink in bud, becoming blue, tubular and borne in tapering spike-like heads in November – January.

What you need to know

Although viper’s bugloss is not a legally declared pest plant, it may still be invasive in some situations. Consider lower-risk alternatives for your garden, such as native plants.


Disturbed sites, riparian margins, grassland, pasture, gardens, wasteland, roadsides.


Seeds dispersed by wind, water and animals. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste.

Impact on environment

Can form dense infestations, competing with native vegetation. Reduces pasture productivity and can be poisonous to livestock.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray seedlings with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

An immature Vipers Bugloss plant.
Not a legally declared pest plant in Auckland but has the potential to be weedy. Viper's bugloss tends to grow fast and can grow in many environments.
Photo credit: Jackie Miles and Max Campbell
Vipers Bugloss with newly opening flowers.
An upright herb that can grow for many years in the right conditions. Viper's bugloss grows up to 1.2m tall and stems and leaves are covered in small bristly hairs.
Photo credit: Jackie Miles and Max Campbell
Stand of dead Vipers Bugloss showing old seed heads.
Seeds are dispersed by wind, water and animals, and can spread from dumped garden waste. Viper's bugloss can be poisonous if eaten by cattle.
Photo credit: Jackie Miles and Max Campbell