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Cynoglossum virginianum L.

Northern Wild Comfrey

Habitat: Rich, upland woods. [Forested wetland; Hardwood to mixed forest (forest, upland)]

Range: Newfoundland, south to Connecticut, west to Iowa and north to British Columbia.

Aids to Identification: Wild comfrey is a perennial herb with a hairy stem and large (10-30 cm), clasping leaves. The small blue flowers are arranged in 2-6 coiled racemes. Fruits are spine-covered nutlets about 8 mm long.

Ecological characteristics: Historical specimens indicate that this species has been found in both northern and southern Maine.

Phenology: Flowers April - May.

Family: Boraginaceae

Synonyms: Represented in Maine by the variety boreale (Fern.) Cooperrider; and formerly known as Cynoglossum boreale Fern.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 11 town(s) in the following county(ies): Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, York.

Dates of documented observations are: 1898, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1915, 1931, 1987, 1988, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range. Rare throughout New England.

Conservation considerations: Effects of logging are not well understood, but partial removal of the canopy would be less likely to adversely affect the plant than complete removal. The plant has been known to disappear from an area following logging.

For more information, see the New England Wild Flower Society's Conservation Plan for Cynoglossum virginianum var. boreale -pdf link- 112 KB.