hairy puccoon

(Lithospermum caroliniense var. croceum)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

hairy puccoon


N4? - Apparently Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed






Dry. Prairies, open woods, inland sands. In sandy soil.


May to July

Flower Color

Orange to light golden yellow


6 to 24


This is a 6 to 24 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on 1 to 12 or more stems from a stout, woody root.

The stems are erect and usually unbranched, though sometimes branched near the top. They are roughly hairy. The hairs on the stem have small, elevated, blister-like elevations (pustules) at the base.

The leaves are alternate, stalkless, relatively thick, linear to lance-shaped, 1 to 2 long, and to ½ wide. There are usually more than 25 crowded leaves below the inflorescence. They are angled or narrowly rounded at the base and bluntly pointed at the tip. Sometimes there is a minute, sharp point at the tip. There is a single prominent vein and no noticeable lateral veins. The upper and lower surfaces are grayish-green to green and roughly hairy. There are small, elevated, blister-like elevations (pustules) at the base of the hairs on the leaves. The margins are untoothed and have a fringe of soft hairs.

The inflorescence is 1 to 3 leafy, branched, flower clusters at the end of the stem and branches. The flowers at the top bloom first, the lateral flowers progressively later. The clusters are dense at first, elongate as the lateral flowers bloom, eventually becoming coiled and 2 to 10 long.

The flowers are ½ to 1 wide and funnel-shaped. There are no closed, self-fertilizing (cleistogamous) flowers. The sepals are fused at the base into a short, cup-like structure (calyx) then separated into 5 linear, flat, ¼ to ½ long lobes. The 5 petals are orange to yellow. They are fused at the base into a 9 16 to 1 long floral tube, then separated into 5 spreading, to 1 wide lobes. The lobes are not fringed. There are 5 stamens. The flowers are subtended by bracts that are much longer than the calyx. There is no floral scent.

The fruits are 1 to 4 egg-shaped, long, white, smooth, shiny, hard nutlets. Each nutlet contains 1 seed.


Fringed puccoon (Lithospermum incis um) inflorescence does not elongate as the season progresses. The floral tube is much longer, ¾ to 2 long. In the late spring and summer it becomes much branched with cleistogamous flowers in the leaf axils of the new branches.

Hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens) rises on 5 or fewer stems. The stems are less leafy. The leaves are densely, softly hairy, not rough. The hairs on the stem and leaves are not pustule-based, though this may not be apparent without a hand lens. The inflorescence, when fully elongated, is much shorter, 1 to 4 long. The flowers are smaller, to ½ wide. The calyx lobes are shorter, to ¼ long when the plant is in full flower. The floral tube is shorter, ¼ to long. The fruit is cream-colored, not white.

Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.




Boraginaceae (borage)





Lithospermum caroliniense ssp. croceum

Lithospermum croceum


Carolina gromwell

Carolina puccoon

hairy puccoon











The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



Automatically self-pollinating. Refers to bud-like flowers that do not open but automatically self-pollinate, or to plants with such flowers.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



Small, elevated, blister-like elevations, usually at the base of hairs.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

“Larger, Lighter, Longer”

For a convenient mnemonic to distinguish between hairy puccoon and hoary puccoon in the field, think "Larger, Lighter, Longer." Hairy puccoon has larger petals that are slightly but noticeably lighter in color and have longer floral tubes.

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  hairy puccoon   hairy puccoon
  hairy puccoon    


  hairy puccoon   hairy puccoon


  hairy puccoon   hairy puccoon






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