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Narrow-leaved Lungwort

Pulmonaria longifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Gardens, heathland, riverbanks, riversides, rocky places, waterside, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Clusters of small vivid blue, funnel-shaped flowers, each measuring 5 to 6mm across. The flowers turn red later on. Flower buds are pink.
Shiny, flat nutlets.
A perennial flower with long, lance-shaped, hairy leaves. The leaves are spotted silvery white.
Other Names:
Eastern Lungwort, Long-leaved Lungwort.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Pulmonaria longifolia, also known as long-leaved lungwort or eastern lungwort, is a perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its clusters of small, blue, pink or purple flowers that bloom in the spring and its long, lance-shaped leaves. The common name "lungwort" is derived from the plant's leaves, which were thought to resemble the lungs of a person in olden times. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and is often found in woodlands, along stream banks, and in other damp, shady places. It's a hardy plant and often used as groundcover or in rock gardens, it's also attractive to pollinators. As with the other Pulmonaria species, it's not considered an invasive plant and it's not poisonous.


Narrow-leaved Lungwort, scientifically known as Pulmonaria longifolia, is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Boraginaceae family. It is a native plant to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, and is commonly found in woodlands, meadows, and along riverbanks.

The plant has narrow, lance-shaped leaves, hence the name 'Narrow-leaved Lungwort'. The leaves are typically 10-20 cm long and 1-2 cm wide and have a distinct white pattern on them, which gives the plant its other common name, 'Lungwort'. The pattern on the leaves is said to resemble the human lung, hence the name 'Lungwort'.

Narrow-leaved Lungwort blooms in the spring, typically from April to May. The plant produces funnel-shaped flowers that are usually pink or purple in color. The flowers have five petals and are approximately 1 cm in diameter. The flowers of the plant are hermaphroditic, meaning they contain both male and female reproductive organs. They are also pollinated by bees, flies, and other insects.

Narrow-leaved Lungwort is known for its medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antitussive, and astringent properties. The plant has been used to treat respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, asthma, and coughs. The leaves of the plant contain compounds called tannins, which have astringent properties and are believed to help with diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

Apart from its medicinal uses, Narrow-leaved Lungwort is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens. It is a low-maintenance plant that can grow in shady areas and can be used to add color to a garden. It is also a useful plant for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden.

Narrow-leaved Lungwort is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils, including loamy, sandy, and clay soils. The plant prefers a moist, well-drained soil and can tolerate partial to full shade. It can also grow in full sun but may require more frequent watering in such conditions.

The plant is easy to propagate from seed or by dividing the clumps in spring or autumn. Once established, the plant does not require much maintenance, except for regular watering during dry spells and occasional fertilization.

In addition to its medicinal and ornamental uses, Narrow-leaved Lungwort also has ecological significance. The plant is an important food source for several species of butterflies and moths, including the Magpie Moth and the Grizzled Skipper. The flowers of the plant also attract bees and other pollinators, making it a valuable plant for supporting pollinators in the garden.

Narrow-leaved Lungwort is also a useful indicator plant for assessing air quality. The plant is sensitive to air pollution and can develop brown spots on its leaves in the presence of high levels of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide.

In traditional medicine, Narrow-leaved Lungwort has been used to treat various respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, cough, and asthma. The plant is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antitussive properties, making it effective in treating respiratory conditions. The leaves of the plant contain saponins, which are compounds that can help to loosen mucus and promote expectoration. The plant also contains mucilage, which can soothe the throat and reduce irritation.

Apart from its traditional medicinal uses, Narrow-leaved Lungwort has also been studied for its potential therapeutic benefits. Recent research has suggested that the plant may have anti-cancer properties. The plant contains a group of compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have been found to have cytotoxic effects on cancer cells. However, more research is needed to determine the potential of Narrow-leaved Lungwort as a cancer treatment.

In addition to its potential health benefits, Narrow-leaved Lungwort has also been used in culinary applications. The leaves of the plant have a slightly bitter taste and can be used in salads, soups, and stews. The plant has also been used as a natural dye, with the leaves producing a green dye and the flowers producing a pink or purple dye.

Narrow-leaved Lungwort has a long history of use in traditional medicine. In medieval Europe, the plant was believed to have magical properties and was used to treat a range of ailments, including lung diseases, digestive disorders, and wounds. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is known as 'Bei Sha Shen' and is used to treat respiratory conditions such as cough and bronchitis.

The plant has also been used in folk medicine to treat wounds and skin conditions. The leaves of the plant contain allantoin, a compound that promotes skin cell regeneration and can help to soothe irritated skin. The plant has also been used topically to treat burns and insect bites.

In addition to its traditional uses, Narrow-leaved Lungwort has also been studied for its potential as a natural pesticide. The plant contains compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have insecticidal properties. Researchers have found that the plant can be used to control insect pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites.

Narrow-leaved Lungwort is also a valuable plant for supporting biodiversity in the garden. The plant is a host plant for several species of moths and butterflies, including the Common Heath and the Orange Underwing. The flowers of the plant also attract pollinators such as bees and hoverflies, making it a valuable plant for supporting insect populations in the garden.

In conclusion, Narrow-leaved Lungwort is a versatile and fascinating plant with many potential uses. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its culinary applications, or its ecological significance, this plant is a valuable addition to any garden or natural setting. Its unique patterned leaves and colorful flowers also make it a beautiful and interesting plant to grow.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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