Hoary Puccoon (Orange Puccoon)

Lithospermum canescens


Photo of hoary puccoon closeup of flower cluster
Julianna Schroeder

Boraginaceae (borages)


Many stalks arise from one root system; begins flowering very low to the ground. Flowers many, from coiled flowering stalks; each flower tubular, though this is hardly visible, with 5 lobes, orange yellow, rarely pale yellow. Blooms March–June. Leaves inconspicuous at flowering time, alternate, lanceolate, pointing upward, very hairy. Fruit small nutlets that are shiny white to yellowish brown.

There are four species of Lithospermum in our state, three of which are called "puccoons." Yellow puccoon (L. incisum) has flowers lemon yellow or bright yellow, with the lobes toothed, fringed, or wrinkled. Plains puccoon (L. carolinense) is similar to hoary puccoon, but its foliage is rough-hairy with stiff hairs (not softly hairy) and has longer flowers.


Height: 6–12 inches.

Hoary Puccoon in Taney Co

Hoary Puccoon in Taney Co
Hoary Puccoon in Taney Co
Hoary Puccoon in Taney Co
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in glades, savannas, upland and loess hill prairies, ledges and tops of bluffs, openings of moist upland forests, dry upland forests, and sometimes along edges of lakes. Also found in pastures, along railroads and roadsides, and in open, disturbed areas. A showy specimen for native plant gardens.

image of Hoary Puccoon Orange Puccoon distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Statewide, except for the lowlands of southeast Missouri.

Human connections

There is poetry in many wildflower names. "Hoary" means gray or white with age, and this plant certainly does have such hairy foliage. "Puccoon" is from the Algonquian word "poughkone" and refers to plants that yield a purple, red, or yellow dye.

Ecosystem connections

Bees and butterflies harvest nectar from these showy flowers, pollinating them in the process. Some types of puccoons, however, bear two types of flowers, with some flowers cross-pollinating with the aid of insects, and others completely self-pollinating.