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Helminthotheca echioides

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Helminthotheca echioides, known as bristly oxtongue,<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> is a stiff annual or biennial herb native to Europe and North Africa. It was traditionally used as an antihelminthic treatment.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Description

The seed head of Helminthotheca echioides

H. echioides may grow up to Template:Convert tall, with a thick, furrowed stem and spreading branches. The leaves are Template:Convert long, oblanceolate with a short petiole. The leaves, branches and stem are all covered in thick bristles. The inflorescences are Template:Convert wide and subtended by between 3 and 5 large ovate-cordate involucral bracts.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> These large bracts are the defining feature of the genus Helminthotheca.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

A number of infraspecific taxa are recognised, varying in their leaf shape.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Distribution

Helminthotheca echioides is native to the Mediterranean Basin, but has become widely naturalised outside that range. In the British Isles, it is widely distributed in the south and east, but more patchily distributed to the north and west.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> In Northern Ireland, H. echioides is only found on the north side of Belfast Lough.<ref name="NI">Template:Cite web</ref>

It has been introduced to North America, where it can now be found from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and California.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Etymology

The specific epithet echioides comes from the resemblance of the leaves of this species to those of Echium vulgare.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

References

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