T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Helminthotheca echioides (Bristly oxtonge)

Kingdom:   Plantae
(unranked):        Angiosperms
(unranked):        Eudicots
(unranked):        Asterids
Order:       Asterales
Family:      Asteraceae
Tribe:        Cichorieae
Genus:      Helminthotheca
Species:     H. echioides
Binomial name: Helminthotheca echioides
Synonyms: Picris echioides, Helmintia echioides 
Common name: Bristly oxtonge

Helminthotheca echioides was "Picris echioides" is native Europe, Asia and Africa and now naturalised throughout New Zealand. It is a stiff annual or biennial herb which can grow up to 90 cm all, with a thick, furrowed stem and spreading branches. The branches and stem are all covered in thick bristles.
The leaves are 3.5-35 cm long and 1-10 cm wide and with wavy or toothed margins. Upper stem leaves ovate to lanceolate. All leaves covered in stiff tubercle-based (white or pale swellings) spine-like hairs.
The inflorescences are 2–3.5 cm wide and subtended by between 3 and 5 large ovate-cordate involucral bracts.
It is a widespread weed of disturbed ground, roadsides, gardens and wasteland. Often occurring on swamps and lakes margins and appears to have moderate salt tolerance, particularly where moisture is adequate and soils are heavy textured. 
It was traditionally used as an antihelminthic treatment.



A young plant.




The reason it is called Oxtongue