Herb: Narrow-Leaf Gromwell

Latin name: Lithospermum incisum

Synonyms: Lithospermum angustifolium, Lithospermum brevifolium

Family: Boraginaceae (Borage Family)

Medicinal use of Narrow-Leaf Gromwell:

The root has been chewed by some native North American Indian tribes as a treatment for colds. The finely powdered leaves, root and stem have been rubbed on the body in the treatment of paralyzed limbs. An infusion of the root has been used in the treatment of stomach aches and kidney problems. The plant has been eaten as an oral contraceptive and also as a treatment for lung haemorrhages, coughs and colds. A cold infusion of the pulverized root and seed has been used as an eyewash. This plant was used as a medicine by various native North American Indian tribes and interest in the plant has revived recently as a possible source of modern drugs. No more details are given.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)


Habitat of the herb:

Dry soils of plains, foothills and ridges in mountains to 2100 metres.

Edible parts of Narrow-Leaf Gromwell:

Root - cooked. Eaten boiled or roasted. The root has been used to make a tea.

Other uses of the herb:

The dried plant tops have been burnt as an incense. A blue dye has been obtained from the roots. A red dye is obtained from the roots. It is quite possible that both colours can be obtained, depending on the mordant used. The seeds have been used as beads.

Propagation of Narrow-Leaf Gromwell:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings. Division.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry soils of plains, foothills and ridges in mountains to 2100 metres.

Known hazards of Lithospermum incisum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.