Cynoglossum

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Cynoglossum

 

(hound’s-tongue), a genus of plants of the family Boraginaceae. The plants are biennial, perennial, or—less commonly—annual herbs. The leaves are entire and alternate. The flowers, which are mostly purple, red, dark blue, or violet, are in cymose inflorescences known as bostryxes. The calyx is five-partite to the base; it enlarges when fruits are present. The corolla is funnelform or rotate. The fruit consists of four nutlike lobes with hooked prickles.

There are about 60 species, distributed in temperate and subtropical zones and in tropical mountains, mainly in dry regions. The USSR has nine species. The common hound’s-tongue (C. officinale) grows on dry slopes, along river bluffs, and in gravelly areas; it also is encountered as a weed along roads and in wastelands and fields. The plant is poisonous, as are other Cynoglossum species. Its roots and seeds contain alkaloids (cynoglossin, cynoglosseine) and glycoalkaloids. The roots and leaves are used in folk medicine as analgesics, as an agent to treat coughs and convulsions, and as an emollient in the form of a fomentation to treat furunculosis, burns, and snakebites. The juice and the roots are used to control insects and rodents. The species C. amabile is cultivated as an ornamental.