Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image
Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum)
USDA Symbol:  ECPL

ODA rating: A and T
Paterson's risk assessment
Noxious weed listing process

Paterson's curse distribution in Oregon
Other common names
Salvation Jane and Riverina bluebell
Click on photo below to view larger image
Images provided by Tim Butler, Oregon Department of Agriculture
If images are downloaded and used from the ODA web site please be sure to credit the photographer.
An erect annual or biennial member of the borage family (Boraginaceae) generally 1-3 feet tall. Plants are often multi-branched with an abundance of stout hairs on stems and leaves. Reproduction and spread is by seed.
Stem - erect, light-green, bristly, stout, branching mainly toward the top.
Leaves - green to light-green, alternate, hairy and thick.
Flowers - most often blue-purple in color, but may be pink or white. Flowers are borne on a fiddleneck-like inflorescence. Blooming usually starts in June, but some flowering plants can be found at any time of the year. Two of the five stamens in the flower, are longer and project significantly from the joined corolla.
Seeds - each flower produces four brown or gray nut let seeds surrounded by a husk covered in bristles giving them a fuzzy appearance.


Paterson's curse is poisonous to grazing animals and a threat to natural areas. The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that cause chronic liver damage and death to susceptible animals. Paterson's curse is a prolific seed producer enabling rapid spread and displacement of pasture, range and desirable plants. It is a threat to native habitat with the potential to invade oak woodland, native prairie, and dry upland slopes. Handling plants can cause mild to severe skin irritation and hay fever in some individuals.
Distribution in Oregon
First detected in 2003 in Linn County, a second larger site was confirmed in Douglas County in 2004. Both Oregon sites are under intensive treatment. Seeds are spread by vehicles, farm implements, humans, animal, water, wind, hay, silage and as a contaminant of commercial seed. Has been found in wildflower mixes in Oregon.
For a collection of spatial information on the distribution of this plant in Oregon go to Oregon WeedMapper.
Biological controls
No approved biological control agents are available.

Printable trifold Paterson's curse brochure (pdf)