Common Gromwell - Lithospermum officinale


It is a native, roughly hairy, stiffish, branched, perennial herb growing up to 1 metre. Flowers are on leafy spikes, 3-6 mm across and ranging in colour from yellow-cream to greenish-white. Leaves are lanceolate (sometimes ovate), up to 7 cm long, with strong lateral veins. Fruits are hard, shiny white nutlets when ripe.

Similar Species

Field Gromwell (Buglossoides arvensis, formerly Lithospermum) has been recorded from VC55 in the past; it has whitish flowers, nutlets which are minutely tuberculate and pale brown when ripe; the leaves have no lateral veins apparent on underside. 

Identification difficulty
ID checklist (your specimen should have all of these features)

Small yellowish/greenish-white flowers; nutlets white, smooth and shining when ripe (They may be darker when immature - ST, pers.comm. Geoffrey Hall)

Recording advice

Photograph of whole plant


Common Gromwell grows on limey soils in grassland, hedgerows and the edges of woods, and on rocky ground, scree and quarries.

When to see it

Flowers May to August.

Life History


UK Status

Mainly in southern Britain and parts of East Anglia scattered elsewhere and possibly decreasing.

VC55 Status

Near scarce in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in only 1 of the 617 tetrads. The Leire find is the first Leicestershire record since 1983.  It is known from several sites in Rutland.

In the current checklist, (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as Native; now scarce and confined to the Oolite.

It was on the 2011 VC55 Rare Plant Register (Jeeves, 2011) but does not meet the criteria for the current RPR (Hall and Woodward, 2022)

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Common Gromwell
Species group:
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
04/05/2011 (Calow, Graham)
Last record:
25/05/2024 (lemmon, roy)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

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