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Manitoba Museum

Borage (Boraginaceae)

Hoary Puccoon

Lithospermum canescens (Michx.) Lehm.

The common name of this prairie plant comes from the presence of tiny hairs that give it a whitish appearance. Indigenous peoples once used Hoary Puccoon as a source of reddish dye used for colouring pottery, baskets, and personal ornaments. The flowers have no noticeable scent, but do provide nectar for long-tongued butterflies and bees in the spring time.

Flower Colour:

  • Yellow

Flowering Season:

  • Spring
  • Summer

Flowering Months:

  • April
  • June
  • May

Canadian Rarity Status:

Not rare. Listed as “sensitive” in Ontario.

Physical Appearance:

This perennial plant has a stout taproot and grows to 40 cm tall. Its 5-9, erect, occasionally branched stems are covered in white hairs. The alternate leaves are bright green, hairy and oval-shaped with pointed tips. Flowers are small and tube-shaped, with five rounded lobes extending outwards. These occur in 1-3 dense, curving clusters, in which the endmost flower blooms first. Fruits are small yellowish-white nuts, each containing a single seed.

Similar Species:

Narrow-leaved Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum Lehm.)

Gardening Notes:

Seeds and/or plants may be available from greenhouses and seed supply companies specializing in native plants. Hoary Puccoon is difficult to germinate from seed, but may be easier from transplants.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • Saskatchewan

Prairie Types:

  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie


  • Limestone Glades
  • Open Woodlands
  • Prairies
  • Savannahs

Moisture Conditions:

  • Dry

Light Preference:

  • Part Shade

Soil Preference:

  • Sand
Hoary Puccoon