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Corn Gromwell

Lithospermum arvense

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
70 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, rocky places, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
Creamy white, hairy, funnel-shaped flowers, 5 to 9mm across in size. 5 stamens. Pollinated by flies and bees.
4-parted, greyish-brown, warty nutlets. The seeds ripen in July and August.
An arable weed with lance-shaped, untoothed leaves. The hairy leaves alternate along the stem on both sides. The basal leaves are stalked yet the upper leaves are not. Unlike Common Gromwell (Lithospermum officinale), the veins in the leaves are not prominent. Annual.
Other Names:
Bastard Alkanet, Field Gromwell, Pigeon Weed, Saltern-stone Seed, Wheat-thief.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Lithospermum arvense, also known as field gromwell, is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the family Boraginaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It's a herbaceous plant that typically grows to be about 20-70cm tall. The stem is hairy and the leaves are narrow, lance-shaped and hairy as well. The flowers are small, yellow and bloom in late spring to early summer. The plant typically grows in open, disturbed areas, fields and rocky soils.

Like other species of the genus Lithospermum, L. arvense has been used in traditional medicine for various ailments, such as wound healing, skin conditions and headaches. Similarly, as other species of the genus, compounds extracted from the root have been used for research on its potential medicinal properties, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, however further research is needed to validate those benefits.

L. arvense, and the other members of the genus are also known to be toxic to grazing animals, if ingested in large amounts, causing symptoms such as photosensitization, digestive disturbances, and even death.


Corn Gromwell, also known as Lithospermum arvense, is a perennial herb that belongs to the Boraginaceae family. It is native to North America and is commonly found in the United States and Canada. Corn Gromwell has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and its various benefits have made it a popular plant among herbalists and natural health practitioners.

Description and Characteristics

Corn Gromwell is a slender, erect plant that grows up to two feet in height. It has a single stem that is covered in stiff hairs and narrow leaves. The flowers are small, white, and star-shaped, and they bloom from June to August. The fruit of the plant is a hard, brown nutlet that contains several seeds.

Uses and Benefits

Corn Gromwell has been used for various medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant contains a compound called lithospermic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory conditions. It also contains other compounds such as echinacoside and rosmarinic acid, which have been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Corn Gromwell is also used as a natural diuretic and has been shown to increase urine output, which can be helpful in reducing water retention and bloating. It is also believed to be beneficial in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Corn Gromwell is also used as a natural dye. The roots of the plant contain a red pigment, which can be extracted and used to dye fabrics.

Growing and Harvesting

Corn Gromwell is a hardy plant that grows well in sandy or rocky soils. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. The plant can be grown from seed or propagated by dividing the roots in the spring or fall. It is important to note that the plant can be invasive, so it is recommended to plant it in a contained area.

The best time to harvest Corn Gromwell is in the late summer or early fall when the seeds are mature. The plant can be harvested by cutting the stems just above the ground and hanging them upside down to dry. Once dry, the seeds can be easily removed from the nutlets and used for medicinal purposes.

Corn Gromwell is a versatile plant that has been used for centuries for its various medicinal and dyeing properties. Its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties make it a popular natural remedy, while its red pigment makes it a useful natural dye. Growing and harvesting Corn Gromwell is relatively easy, making it a great addition to any garden or natural medicine cabinet.

More Information about Corn Gromwell

Corn Gromwell has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Native American tribes used the plant to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, skin conditions, and digestive problems. They also used it as a poultice to treat wounds and skin irritations.

European settlers in North America also recognized the medicinal properties of Corn Gromwell and used it as a treatment for conditions such as rheumatism, coughs, and fevers. In more recent times, scientific studies have confirmed many of the traditional uses of the plant and have identified some new potential benefits.

One study found that Corn Gromwell extract has anti-cancer properties and may be useful in the treatment of certain types of cancer. The study found that the plant extract was able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.

Another study found that Corn Gromwell extract was able to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brains of rats with Alzheimer's disease. The researchers suggested that the plant extract could be a potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases.

Corn Gromwell has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine. In Chinese herbal medicine, the plant is known as Zi Ca and is used to treat a variety of conditions, including fever, cough, and pain.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Corn Gromwell is also used as a food source for some wildlife species, including birds and small mammals. The plant is known to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a valuable addition to pollinator gardens.

Corn Gromwell is a versatile and beneficial plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and dyeing properties. Its potential health benefits and ease of cultivation make it a valuable addition to any herbal medicine garden.

Corn Gromwell is also known for its traditional use as a natural remedy for skin conditions. The plant has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it useful in the treatment of skin infections and irritations.

Corn Gromwell extract has been found to have wound-healing properties and may be useful in the treatment of skin ulcers and other types of wounds. It has also been used in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Corn Gromwell has cultural and historical significance in some indigenous communities. For example, the Cheyenne tribe of North America used the plant in their traditional Sun Dance ceremony. They believed that the plant had the power to purify and cleanse the body and spirit.

Corn Gromwell is also used in some spiritual practices and is believed to have protective and cleansing properties. In some cultures, the plant is burned as an incense or used in smudging rituals to purify the air and ward off negative energy.

Despite its many benefits, it is important to note that Corn Gromwell can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using the plant as its safety has not been established. As with any herbal remedy, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using Corn Gromwell for medicinal purposes.

In conclusion, Corn Gromwell is a fascinating and useful plant with a rich history of traditional use. Its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound-healing properties make it a valuable natural remedy for a variety of conditions. Its cultural and historical significance adds to its overall importance as a plant with multiple uses and benefits.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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