Common ox tongue

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Common ox tongue
Common ox tongue (Anchusa officinalis)

Common ox tongue ( Anchusa officinalis )

Euasterids I
Family : Boraginaceae (Boraginaceae)
Subfamily : Boraginoideae
Tribe : Boragineae
Genre : Ox tongues ( anchusa )
Type : Common ox tongue
Scientific name
Anchusa officinalis

The Common ox tongue ( Anchusa officinalis ) is a plant from the genus of violets ( Anchusa ). It is also called the common ox tongue or simply ox tongue ; The trivial names Liebäugel or Blutwurz are less common . It is widespread in Europe and was occasionally used as a medicinal plant in the past .


Appearance and foliage leaf

The common ox tongue is a two year to perennial , herbaceous plant reached, the plant height of usually 30 to 70 (20 to 100) centimeters. It has a strong, up to 1.2 meters deep, held by black, wrinkled rings taproot . The stem axis is fresh green to bluish green and densely covered with little stiff, protruding hairs sitting on small nodules . The stem is usually simple and has sterile short shoots and branches of the inflorescence only in the upper leaf axils.

Of the alternate and spirally arranged leaves , only the lower ones are clearly stalked, the upper ones are sessile and more or less encompassing the stem. The leaf blades are lanceolate to almost linear and between 5 and 10 centimeters (the basal ones to over 20 centimeters) long and 1 to 2 centimeters (rarely from 0.5 centimeters, the basal ones to 3.5 centimeters) wide; they get smaller towards the top. The leaf tips are pointed briefly. The leaf margin is whole or more often a little wavy and more or less bulged or dented. The leaf blades are hairy evenly on both sides, the side nerves are indistinct. The leaves give the ox tongue its name.

Inflorescence, flower and fruit

Detail of an inflorescence with flowers
Inner side of the crown with stamens and throat scales

The overall pyramid-shaped, often more branched, panicle-like overall inflorescence consists of short, but clearly stalked, leafy double coils , which are densely covered with many flowers and which are greatly elongated after flowering. The flowers are almost sessile.

The hermaphrodite flowers are five-fold with a double flower envelope. The five sepals are about 5 millimeters long at the time of flowering, about 7 millimeters long at the time of fruit ripening and split into lanceolate to linear, coarse hairy, continuously connected tips over the middle. The crown is 1 to 1.5 inches long and between 5 and 9 millimeters wide. The color of the petals is initially carmine and then turns dark blue-violet or is very rarely white. The five petals are fused into a wide, slightly narrower in the throat, the calyx slightly protruding corollary tube, which opens into triangular-egg-shaped, at the edge coarse papillary , white pharyngeal scales and almost circular lobes. Stamens and stylus are enclosed in the corolla tube.

The Klausen fruits disintegrate into four partial fruits. The light brown Klausen are 3 to 4 millimeters long, obliquely egg-shaped, bulging-wrinkled and finely warty. The elaiosome is a slightly protruding, ring-shaped pseudostrophiole .

Chromosome number

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 16.


The color change of the corolla from carmine red when blooming to a solid dark purple as a subtraction color in full bloom is explained by the fact that the epidermis has red cell sap , the underlying mesophyll blue.

There is differential grip or heterostyly . The throat of the corolla is tightly closed by the hollow scales which also serve as sap marks, preventing flies (Brachycera) and ants (Formicidae) from accessing the nectar. Real bees (Apidae), some butterflies (Lepidoptera) and Systoechus sulphureus , a wool floater (Bombyliidae), were regularly observed as visitors . If there is no insect pollination, self-pollination takes place.

The common ox tongue is often attacked by the rust fungus (Pucciniales) Puccinia dispersa . Various gall midges (Cecidomyiidae) also attack the plants and lead to stunted flowers.

The common ox tongue is a forage plant for the caterpillars of the owl butterflies, mugwort earth owl and yellow-spot forest shadow owl .


The common ox tongue is a widespread archaeophyte in eastern Central Europe , further in the west it is mostly inconsistent or feral from culture. In the Alps it rises to an altitude of 2309  m . Natural and archaeophytic occurrences include Eastern and Central Europe from Greece to the Ukraine to the Baltic States (to Ingermanland , Estonia, southern Finland, Åland , central Sweden, Denmark) and westward to the Elbe and Danube regions, northern Italy , including Turkey . As a partially naturalized neophyte , the common ox tongue occurs in western Central Europe, in France and in England, and occasionally as far as Scotland. Smaller neophytic settlements can be found in North and South America.

The common ox tongue can be found in grass heaths, on dry fields and roadsides, in hedges, fallow land, vineyards, sand dunes, on rubble, open pastures or river alluvions .

After Ellenberg is a light plant, a heat and Trockniszeiger, a pioneer plant warm valleys and a trim characteristic species requiring heat and drought yield forming two years to persistent Ruderalfluren (Onopordetalia acanthii).


Anchusa officinalis was first published in 1753 by Carl von Linné . Synonyms of Anchusa officinalis L. are: Anchusa angustifolia L. , Anchusa officinalis subsp. angustifolia (L.) Bjelcić , Anchusa arvalis Rchb. , Anchusa microcalyx Vis. , Anchusa osmanica Velen.

From Anchusa officinalis , there are two subspecies:

  • Anchusa officinalis L. subsp. officinalis
  • Anchusa officinalis subsp. intacta (Griseb.) Selvi & Bigazzi (Syn .: Anchusa officinalis var. intacta Griseb. , Anchusa macedonica Velen. , Anchusa moesiaca Velen. , Anchusa officinalis var. longifolia Griseb. ): It occurs in Bulgaria, in Greece, in the Aegean and in Turkey before.

Use and toxicity

The common ox tongue was previously grown as an ornamental plant , but also like borage (genus) ( Borago ) as a vegetable (young leaves as spinach or lettuce). In the past, parts of plants were also used for yellowing.

The common ox tongue was used as a medicinal plant. An extract is said to have a soothing effect and as an emetic . Nowadays its use for medicinal purposes is very rare because of the toxicity of the plant parts.

The herb is poisonous in high doses and was used (as early as around the year 1000 by the Tegernsee monastery , documented in the Versepos Ruodlieb ) as an unconscious or numbing fishing bait ("Buglossa mad bait"). Active substances are the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid lycopsamine and the non-toxic substances laburnine and acetyllaburnine . Pyrrolizidine alkaloids can also be carcinogenic if taken for a long time. Therefore, the common ox tongue should no longer be used for medicinal purposes.

Common names

For the common ox tongue (the old Greco-Latin name was buglossa , Latin also lingua bovina ), the names Achsenzunge, Ackermannskraut, Augenzier, Bauernboretsch (Switzerland), Bauernkraut, Brotherhood mandar (Zillertal), counter-attack are or were, sometimes only regionally , Dog tongue (Old High German), Hunnetunge (Göttingen), Liebäugel (Silesia), ox tongue, red ox tongue, Ossentonghen (Low German), ox tongue, starflower, Struhnjirn (in the sense of shaggy Georg, Küstrin), and Uissenzong (Transylvanian).



Year - century Author - title of the book Indication information particularities
1st century Dioscurides . De materia medica. Buglosson. Text: "... Put this in wine to create a cheerful mood."
1st century Pliny . 1st century Naturalis historia Buglossos. Text: "... Thrown in wine it increases the joy of life and is called" euphrosynos "."
2nd century Galen . 2nd century De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis ac facultatibus. Buglossum. Text: “... put in wine it brings happiness. In honey decoction it helps those who cough because of roughness of the throat. "
4th century Pseudo-Apuleius . Herba bovis lingua… a Graecis dicitur buglossa. Indications: 1. Three- and four-day fever. 2. Suppuration in the body.
11th century Avicenna . Canon of Medicine . Lingua bovis - Buglosso. Eliminates "alcola" [?] That are in children and soothes inflammation of the mouth ... It makes you happy, is good for the heart, is good for melancolie with restlessness and trembling of the heart.
11th century Avicenna . De viribus cordis. Lingua bovis. Makes you happy ... good for the heart ...
11th century Pseudo macer . Buglossa. Drives out the burnt red colera and black colera, draws harmful juices from the lungs, helps against sciatica, strengthens memory, makes you happy.
13./14. Century German Macer . Buglossa - ox tongues. Lung disease, sciatica, strengthens memory, makes you happy.
14th century Pseudo-Arnaldus de Villanova . Preservation and preparation of the wine. Ox tongues wine. Carries out melancholic, coleric and burnt moisture through the urine, good for the brain poisoned by melancolia, brings raging people to reason.
14th century Pseudo-serapion Lingua bovis. Against coughs, delights the heart, makes happy; Flows of teeth and gums, "alcola" [?], Diseases of the mouth in children.
14./15. Century Gabriel von Lebenstein . Buglosa ox tongues. Rigid ("first") under the eyes of the wind, make sad people happy.
15th century Little book about the burnt-out waters . Ox tongue water. Like rosemary water. In addition: trembling (“scales”) of the head, especially in women.
1484 Herbarius moguntinus . Buglossa oschen tongues. Against coughs, delights the heart ... like pseudo-serapion - with the addition of recipes.
1485 Garden of Health . Buglossa ox tongue. Dry cough, makes you happy, motherwort, swelling on the feet, makes good memory, strengthens the heart and blood.
1491 Hortus sanitatis . Buglossa. Indications according to Pliny, Avicenna ...
1500 Small distilling book . Ox tongue. A head cold (instead of "scales" = trembling like in the booklet about the burnt-out waters) - B nonsense / mania - C good for menstrual bleeding - D promotes memory and understanding - E strengthens the heart - F jaundice - G expels bad moisture of the lungs - H side stitch - I heart fever - K strengthens all organs - L bad breath - M for blood purification in skin diseases. Brunschwig differentiates between Anchusa officinalis, Anchusa arvensis and Anchusa azurea
1530 Otto Brunfels . Herbarum vivae eicones. As under "borrago".
1532 Otto Brunfels . Contrafeyt Kreueterbuch. As under "borrago".
1539 Hieronymus Bock . Kreuterbuch. Ox tongue. Heart strengthening. Makes melancholy people happy. Purify the blood. Externally against skin diseases, eye redness and sciatic problems.
1543 Leonhart Fuchs . Kreuterbuch. Zam Ochsenzung, Welsch Ochsenzung. Buglossum. Heart strengthening. Eliminates fainting and sadness.

Historical illustrations


  • Gustav Hegi: Anchusa officinalis . In: Illustrated flora of Central Europe . 5, 3rd part. JF Lehmanns, Munich 1926, p. 2198-2201 .

Web links

Commons : Common Ox Tongue ( Anchusa officinalis )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of plants in Germany. A botanical-ecological excursion companion to the most important species . 6th, completely revised edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2005, ISBN 3-494-01397-7 .
  2. synonymous with Greek-Latin "buglossa"
  3. Helmut Carl: The German plant and animal names: Interpretation and linguistic order. Heidelberg 1957, p. 64 f.
  4. ^ Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . With the collaboration of Angelika Schwabe and Theo Müller. 8th, heavily revised and expanded edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , pp.  784 .
  5. a b Ruprecht Düll , Herfried Kutzelnigg : Pocket dictionary of the plants of Germany and neighboring countries. The most common Central European species in portrait . 7th, corrected and enlarged edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2011, ISBN 978-3-494-01424-1 , p.  85 .
  6. FloraWeb: Butterfly fodder plant Anchusa officinalis L., Ordinary ox tongue
  7. ^ Anchusa in Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  8. Heinz Ellenberg : Vegetation of Central Europe with the Alps in an ecological, dynamic and historical perspective (=  UTB for science. Large series . Volume  8104 ). 5th, heavily changed and improved edition. Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 1996, ISBN 3-8252-8104-3 .
  9. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum. Volume 1, Impensis Laurentii Salvii, Holmiae 1753, p. 133 (first publication).
  10. a b c Benito Valdés, 2011: Boraginaceae. : Data sheet Anchusa officinalis In: Euro + Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity.
  11. ^ Heinrich Grimm: New contributions to the "fish literature" of the XV. to XVII. Century and through their printer and bookkeeper. In: Börsenblatt for the German book trade - Frankfurt edition. No. 89, November 5, 1968 (= Archive for the History of Books. Volume 62), pp. 2871–2887, here: p. 2883.
  12. ^ Rudolph Zaunick : Buglossa = mad bait (fishing poison). In: Janus. Volume 28, 1924, p. 397.
  13. Rudolph Zaunick: The fishing mad bait in Europe from ancient times to modern times. In: Archives for Hydrobiology , Supplement-Volume 4, 1928, p. 664 ff.
  14. ^ Lutz Roth , Max Daunderer , Kurt Kormann : Toxic Plants - Plant Poisons. Poisonous plants from AZ. Emergency assistance. Occurrence. Effect. Therapy. Allergic and phototoxic reactions . 4th edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-933203-31-7 (reprint from 1994).
  15. ^ Lutz Roth, Max Daunderer, Kurt Kormann: Toxic Plants - Plant Poisons. Occurrence, effect, therapy, allergic and phototoxic reactions. With a special section about poisonous animals. 6th, revised edition, special edition. Nikol, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86820-009-6 .
  16. ^ Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, page 26, online.
  17. Berendes edition. 1902. Book IV, chapter 126. (digitized version)
  18. Book XXV, § 81 (Chapter XL). Latin Online Edition Chicago ; German Denso edition Volume II, p. 388
  19. Book VI, Chapter II / 12: Buglossum. Edition Kühn 1826, Volume XI, p. 852 (digitized version)
  20. ^ Print Rome 1481/82 (digitized version )
  21. Edition Alpago 1556, Volume II, Chapter 436 (digitized version)
  22. ^ Edition Alpago 1555. De medicinis cordialibus, p. 564r (digitized version )
  23. ^ Print Naples 1477 (digitized version)
  24. Heidelberg. Cpg 226. Alsace 1459–1469, sheet 196 r (digitized version)
  25. ^ Print Esslingen 1478. Ox tongues wine. (Digitized version)
  26. ^ Print Venice 1497, Chapter LXXXIII (digitized version )
  27. ^ Print Augsburg 1479 (digitized version)
  28. Chapter 24 (digitized version)
  29. Chapter 54 (digitized version)
  30. Book I, Chapter 80 (digitized version)
  31. page 85r-86r (digitized version )
  32. (digitized version)
  33. (digitized version)
  34. Part I, Chapter 77 (digitized version)
  35. Chapter 129 (digitized version)