Lungwort

Lungwort is not classed as native but as naturalised. It is native in Europe and across to the middle east. As you can see it has flowers which are both pink and blue, in fact they start off pink and then gradually turn blue as the flower gets older. It flowers early in the year, March through to May, and is usually found in shady places like woodland and hedgerows. The one in the photo was growing under some trees on the edge of the carpark for Offas dyke just outside Tutshill on the way to Chepstow. So I suspect it was there because someone had dumped some garden waste there in the past.

Another (more generous) possibility is that the seeds were transferred there in mud on the boots of a walker. This species does produce seeds in the form of nutlets so movement of seeds from place to place is a possible means of transport. The nutlets are smooth, egg-shaped, brownish, up to 4.5 mm long and 3 mm wide, each containing a single seed. Up to four nutlets per flower are produced, ripening mostly in summer.
The leaves are quite wide, they are hairy and they do have pale or white spots on them. There is another species of lungwort called Narrow-leaved Lungwort, which is common in France but restricted in the UK to an area in the south around Southampton, where it is native. I have written another blog on this species, as you would expect it has longer narrower leaves. Also the flowers are a little smaller and they are darker blue. Still we need not worry about that one too much as it is not found in the Wye valley, or anywhere close by.
The white spots are the cause of its name because they have some similarity whith the spots found on diseased lungs. So in the past the plant was used as a medicine to prevent or cure lung disease. thus its common name and indeed its scientific name Pulmonaria…. pulmonary….lungs. However there is not much evidence of substances found in the plant which has been shown to have any effect, positive or negative on the well being of your lungs. It doe have a high mucilage content which possibly could have a soothing effect and along with huge numbers of other plants it contains antioxidants which are somewhat randomly beneficial. There is also a lungwort moss which is used medicinally. It is not a moss but is a lichen!

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