Native Plant of the Week: Hoary Puccoon ~ Lithospermum canescens

Hoary Puccoon ~ Lithospermum canescens

The bright orange flowers of Hoary Puccoon are a treat to see in full bloom in May. A tough native perennial of mesic to dry sites, it is most commonly found in full sun in dry prairies or woodland edges.

It is notoriously very difficult to grow from seed, if at all. Lithospermum is Greek for lithos (stone) and sperma (seed), for its extremely hard seed coat. Transplant success is also low due to its tap root.

Blooming in early to mid May, the five parted tubular flowers are arranged in cymes that curve over as they open.

The leaves are arranged alternately and are covered in fine white hairs giving it a hoary or gray appearance. Hoary Puccoon grows between 4" and 15" in height, depending upon soil moisture.
"Hoary Puccoon is very similar to Carolina Puccoon (Lithospermum caroliniense). Carolina Puccoon has 1-inch flowers, the bracts are much longer, and the stem hairs are shorter, more sparse, and more bristly." (Minnesota Wildflowers)

Hoary Puccoon is native to the midwest and eastern North America. See map below for range.

Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.