©Lizzie Wilberforce


©Katrina Martin/2020VISION


Scientific name: Echium vulgare
The upright, blue flower spikes of Viper's-bugloss can be spotted on chalk grassland, sand dunes, cliffs and banks. Its spotted stem is thought to resemble a viper.

Species information


Height: up to 80cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to September


Viper's-bugloss is a hairy plant with dense spikes of bright blue, funnel-shaped flowers. It is found on chalk grassland, sand dunes, cliffs and disturbed ground, and is in bloom from May to September. It provides food for a range of insects, including Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumblebees, Large Skipper and Painted Lady butterflies, Honeybees and Red Mason Bees.

How to identify

Viper's-bugloss has upright spikes of vivd blue flowers in dense clusters; hairy, spotted stems; and narrow, pointed leaves.


Scattered distribution in the UK, most common in the south.

Did you know?

Viper's-bugloss may have got its common name, 'Viper', from its spotted stem, which is said to resemble a snake's markings, or from the shape of its flowers, which look like the head of a snake. 'Bugloss' comes from the Greek meaning 'ox's tongue' and refers to the rough, tongue-shaped leaves.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and coastal habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways these habitats are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.