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Bethlehem Sage Pulmonaria longifolia

Previously known as:

  • Pulmonaria cevennensis
  • Pulmonaria longifolia subsp. cevennensis
Phonetic Spelling
pul-meh-nair ee-ah lon-jee-FOH-lee-uh
Description

Narrow-leaf lungwort is a shade-loving, semi-evergreen, herbaceous perennial. It is low-growing and clump-forming. The leaves are fuzzy, narrow, deep green, and mottled with silver or white blotches. Funnel-shaped flowers bloom in shades of blue, purple, or pink. It is a member of the Boraginaceae or borage family.

This plant is native to western Europe or more specifically, France, Great Britain, Portugal, and Spain. It is typically found in woodlands or scrub areas. A subspecies cevennesis is a native of southern France in the Cevennes Mountain. This subspecies has leaves that are up to 24 inches long.

The genus name, Pulmonaria, is derived from the Latin word, pulmo, which means "lung." In the past, it was believed that this plant was a remedy for lung diseases. The species name, longifolia, is Latin and means long leaves which describe its leaf shape. The common name, lungwort, references the spotted leaves that resemble a diseased lung. 

Narrow-leaf lungwort performs best in partial to full shade, and rich, moist, well-drained soils. Dry soils, direct sun, and extreme heat should be avoided. They prefer cool shaded areas for peak performance. They may be propagated by division which is best done after flowering in the spring or during the fall.

The narrow-leaf lungwort has both basal and cauline leaves. The basal leaves form a dense clump. Each leaf is up to 12 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. The cauline leaves are smaller and are sparsely placed along the stems. Clusters of funnel-shaped flowers appear in the spring. 

The leaves, stems, and blooms of lungwort are toxic to cats and dogs. They contain chemicals known as saponins and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. If ingested, pets may exhibit symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty walking, or neurological problems. Consult your veterinarian immediately.

Consider using the narrow-leaf lungwort as a low spreading ground cover in woodland or shaded areas. It may be used along banks, slopes, borders, beds, and in cottage gardens. The mottled and spotted leaves of green and silver will add interest all year round plus the bonus of dark blue to purple or pink flowers in the spring.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Spring              Foliage:  Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter (warm climates)

Quick ID Hints:

  • semi-evergreen, low growing, clumping perennial
  • narrow basal leaves up to 12 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide forming a dense clump
  • leaves dark green and mottled with silver or white
  • sparse cauline leaves along the stem
  • clusters of funnel-shaped flowers of pink, blue, or purple in the spring

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Narrow-leaf lungwort has no serious pests and diseases. Slugs may be an occasional problem. Powdery mildew can occur in dry conditions. In poorly drained soils, root rot can develop. The leaves will scorch or wilt in extremely hot weather or full sun. 

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ankum' cultivar
    blue to mauve flowers and green leaves with silver spots
  • 'Bertram Anderson' cultivar
    Bright blue flowers and deep green leaves spotted with silver
  • 'Diana Clare' hybrid
    Blue flowers transition to pink, leaves speckled with silver
  • 'Dordogne' cultivar
    Violet flowers and dark green leaves with white spots
  • Magic Flower
  • 'Raspberry Splash' hybrid
    Pink flowers and green foliage mottled with silver
  • 'Roy Davidson' hybrid
    Light blue flowers fading to pink
  • 'Trevi Fountain' hybrid
    Cobalt blue flowers and green leaves spotted with silvery white
'Ankum' cultivar, 'Bertram Anderson' cultivar, 'Diana Clare' hybrid, 'Dordogne' cultivar, Magic Flower, 'Raspberry Splash' hybrid, 'Roy Davidson' hybrid, 'Trevi Fountain' hybrid
Tags:
#cultivars#heat tolerant#perennials#semi-evergreen#pink flowers#blue flowers#shade garden#spring flowers#slopes#cottage garden#interesting leaves#mass planting#spreading#violet flowers#deer resistant#herbaceous perennials#hybrids#groundcover#border planting#spring interest#clumping#walkway planting#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#black walnut toxicity tolerant#meadows#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden#mottled leaves#container#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ankum' cultivar
    blue to mauve flowers and green leaves with silver spots
  • 'Bertram Anderson' cultivar
    Bright blue flowers and deep green leaves spotted with silver
  • 'Diana Clare' hybrid
    Blue flowers transition to pink, leaves speckled with silver
  • 'Dordogne' cultivar
    Violet flowers and dark green leaves with white spots
  • Magic Flower
  • 'Raspberry Splash' hybrid
    Pink flowers and green foliage mottled with silver
  • 'Roy Davidson' hybrid
    Light blue flowers fading to pink
  • 'Trevi Fountain' hybrid
    Cobalt blue flowers and green leaves spotted with silvery white
'Ankum' cultivar, 'Bertram Anderson' cultivar, 'Diana Clare' hybrid, 'Dordogne' cultivar, Magic Flower, 'Raspberry Splash' hybrid, 'Roy Davidson' hybrid, 'Trevi Fountain' hybrid
Tags:
#cultivars#heat tolerant#perennials#semi-evergreen#pink flowers#blue flowers#shade garden#spring flowers#slopes#cottage garden#interesting leaves#mass planting#spreading#violet flowers#deer resistant#herbaceous perennials#hybrids#groundcover#border planting#spring interest#clumping#walkway planting#patio planting#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#black walnut toxicity tolerant#meadows#heavy shade tolerant#woodland garden#mottled leaves#container#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pulmonaria
    Species:
    longifolia
    Family:
    Boraginaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In the 16 and 17th century, the plant was used for the treatment of lung diseases.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Western Europe
    Distribution:
    Native: France, Great Britain, Portugal, and Spain
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts hummingbirds.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Colorful
    Defines Paths
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Mounding
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers appear in clusters from April to May. Each flower is funnel-shaped and about 1 inch long. They bloom in shades of purple to blue. Some cultivars varying shades of pink, blue, or purple.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves fuzzy, dark green, and mottled with blotches of white or silver. The basal leaves are narrow, up to 12 inches long, and 1 to 2 inches wide. The cauline leaves are ovate to oblong, smaller, measuring up to 6 inches long, and appear sparsely along the stem.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Meadow
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Heat
    Heavy Shade