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 guidance

    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

    Rare 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 is on the VC55 Rare Plant Register

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map