Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Search in the Encyclopedia

Dieren en planten

Water en land

Mens en Milieu

Hound's tongue


30 to 80 centimeters


starts brown-red, turns dark purple


May through July


seed spread by animal fur

life span:

biennual, sometimes longer


Europe, Siberia, imported in North America

  • Dut: Hondstong
  • Lat: Cynoglossum officinale
  • Eng: Hound's-Tongue, gypsyflower
  • Fren: Cynoglosse officinale
  • Ger: Echte Hundszunge
Hound's tongue, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

Hound's tongue

Hound's tongue produces flat barbed seedlings. Many fur-coated animals, such as rabbits, help spread these burrs. People's clothing also serves this purpose well. Hound's tongue is poisonous and was used in earlier days for healing infections. Due to its toxicity, the plant and as well as the seeds are not grazed by animals. However, that doesn't keep away various moths and trunk beetles. Hound's tongue grows in sunny, light areas and loose, calcium-rich soil. In the Netherlands, it is limited to the dunes in North and South Holland.

  • Name giving
    Hound's tongue, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    There are several explanations to the name hound's tongue. Some say it comes from its rough, long leaves in the shape of a dog's tongue. Or is it because the seeds resemble a dog's tongue? Another version refers to the belief that a leaf worn in one's shoe warded off dog attacks!

    Hound's tongue doesn't smell nice. Its nickname 'rats and mice' refer to this characteristic. However, just like horses and cows, rats and mice don't like hound's tongue which is why the plant is used to drive away these critters.

  • See also

  • Info

    Copyright Ecomare