Herb: Western Gromwell

Latin name: Lithospermum ruderale

Family: Boraginaceae (Borage Family)

Medicinal use of Western Gromwell:

An infusion or decoction of the root has been used as a diuretic in the treatment of kidney complaints and also to treat internal haemorrhaging, diarrhoea etc. A poultice of the dried powdered leaves and stems has been used to relieve the pain of rheumatic joints. Some N. American Indian women drank a cold water infusion of the roots daily for six months to ensure permanent sterility. Alcoholic extracts of the plant have been shown to eliminate the oestrus cycle and decrease the weight of the thymus and pituitary glands.

Description of the plant:


75 cm
(2 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Open, fairly dry places from the foothills to moderate elevations.

Edible parts of Western Gromwell:

The seeds have been used for food.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant has been used as a dye and body paint. No more details are given in the report, but it is likely that the root is used and the colour is some shade of red. The hard, white, shiny seeds have been used as beads.

Propagation of Western 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:

Open, fairly dry places from the foothills to moderate elevations.

Known hazards of Lithospermum ruderale:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.