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(viper’s bugloss), a genus of plants of the family Boraginaceae. The plants are annual, biennial, or perennial stiff-haired herbs or, rarely, shrubs. The leaves are alternate and entire. The irregular flowers are dark blue, purple, yellow, or white; they are gathered in bostryces, which form a panicled inflorescence. The calyx is dissected almost to its base, and the corolla is funnel-shaped and oblique. The fruit consists of four nutlets.
There are more than 40 species, distributed in Europe, West Asia, and northern and southern Africa. Five species are found in the USSR. The blue-weed (E. vulgare), a biennial with dark blue flowers, grows in wastelands and deserts, on slopes, along roads, in fields and in overgrown places. Echium is a valuable nectariferous plant and source of beebread. The blue-weed is often cultivated. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Echium rossicum (formerly E. rubrum) is found in the steppe zone of the European USSR, in the Caucasus, and in Middle Asia. Its roots contain a dye.