Weed of the Week: Hound's Tongue
The petals of the noxious weed, Hound’s tongue (Cynoglossum Officinale), may remind you of a dog’s tongue, happily hanging out the side of his mouth. But behind this plant’s elegant rosy petals is a bite worth noting.
Invasive plants flourish and spread vigorously, causing harm to the environment, economy, and public health. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), invasive plants are the second greatest threat to biodiversity.
Hound’s tongue was first recorded in Canada, 1922. This noxious weed has spread quickly and is estimated to infest more than 2,000 hectors in BC. The “unwanted” plant can be found in BC’s Kootenay, Okanagan, Thompson, and Cariboo regions. Thriving on gravelly surfaces and shady locations, hound’s tongue has become a common guest of damp fields, forested areas, and roadsides. As you drive by you may catch a glimpse of the plant’s reddish purple petals. This weed’s five petals are self-pollinating, and bloom between May and July. Hound’s tongue stems stand up to 1.5 meters tall and display lance shaped, rough, and hairy leaves.
A key component to the spread of hound’s tongue is its hooked seeds that easily attach to animals, clothing, and equipment. More than 600 hooked prickles are produced by a single plant. This specific characteristic of hound’s tongue is very bothersome to livestock whose eyes are especially irritated by the presence of barbed seeds. The seeds are also a common annoyance to outdoor enthusiasts.
This plant is detrimental for the livestock industry; hound’s tongue contains toxic alkaloids which are potentially damaging to the liver of both horses and cows. This plants’ poisoning effect may bring on a host of symptoms such as convulsions, jaundice, and diarrhea. The reduced fitness and weight of livestock can decrease the animal’s sale value. Grazing pastures are also devalued by the spread of hound’s tongue.
Steps to manage hound’s tongue can be achieved by strategies such as hand pulling, mowing, biological control, as well as chemical. You can help protect your community’s local resources by taking action against this invasive plant.
To find out more about Hound's Tongue, click here.