Anchusa L.

(excl. Lycopsis L.)

Anchusa is a genus of ca. 33 species (Mabberley 2008). Most are native in Europe, some in Africa and W Asia. Not a single species is native in Belgium but Lycopsis arvensis L. (syn.: Anchusa arvensis (L.) Bieb., from a closely related segregate genus, is native (or possibly rather archaeophytic) (Lambinon & Verloove 2012). Only few species are cultivated as ornamentals (e.g. Cox 2000, Jäger & al. 2008).

The generic limits of Anchusa have long been unclear. In order to bring taxonomy in line with phylogeny a narrower but more natural concept of Anchusa was advocated by Hilger & al. (2004). As a consequence, generic status of Lycopsis L. was reinstated.

1       Calyx lobes obtuse to rounded at apex, with distinct hyaline margin. Corolla pale yellow to cream === Anchusa ochroleuca

         Calyx lobes acute at apex, margins not or scarcely hyaline. Corolla bluish or purplish (rarely pink, white or cream) === 2

2       Calyx divided nearly to base. Nutlets ca. 6-10 mm long. Corolla usually deep blue === A. azurea

         Calyx usually divided at most to ½ (very rarely nearly to base). Nutlets ca. 4 mm long. Corolla violet, rarely pink, white or cream === 3

3       Bracts lanceolate. Calyx exclusively with long hairs, calyx lobes longer than tube. Plant rarely exceeding 100 cm === A. officinalis

         Bracts ovate to triangular. Calyx with long and short hairs, calyx lobes ca. as long as to shorter as tube. Plant up to 180 cm tall === A. procera


Akcin T.A., Ulu S. & Akcin A. (2010) Morphological, anatomical and numerical studies on some Anchusa L. (Boraginaceae) taxa from Turkey. Pak. J. Bot. 42(4): 2231-2247. [available online at:]

Bigazzi M., Nardi E. & Selvi F. (1995) Biosystematic investigations on Anchusa L. subgen. Rivinia W. Gr. and taxonomic relationships with Lycopsis L. (Boraginaceae). Giorn. Bot. Ital. 129(1): 121.

Bigazzi M., Selvi F. & Papini A. (2004) Congruenze e incongruenze fra aspetti morfologici e molecolari nella sistematica filogenetica di Anchusa s.l. (Boraginaceae). Inform. Bot. Ital. 36: 512-515.

Chater A.O. (1972) Anchusa. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea, vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 106-109.

Cox C.J. (2000) Anchusa. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 6. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 143.

Diez M.J. (1983) Pollen morphology of genus Anchusa L. (Boraginaceae): its taxonomic interest. Pollen Spores 25(3-4): 367-381.

Diez M.J. (1994) A general survey of pollen types in Anchusa L. (Boraginaceae) in relation to taxonomy. Acta Bot. Gallica 141(2): 233-242.

Guşuleac M. (1927) Die europäischen Arten der Gattung Anchusa L. Bulet. Fac. Ştiinţe Cernăuţi 1: 72-123.

Guşuleac M. (1927) Die ausser europäischen Arten der Gattung Anchusa L. Bulet. Fac. Ştiinţe Cernăuţi 1: 233-325.

Guşuleac M. (1929) Species Anchusae generis Linn. hucusque cognitae. Feddes Repert.26: 286-322.

Hilger H.H., Selvi F., Papini A. & Bigazzi M. (2004) Molecular systematics of Boraginaceae tribe Boragineae based on ITS1 and trnL sequences, with special reference to Anchusa s.l. Ann. Bot. 94(2): 201-212. [available online at:]

Luque T. (1983) Estudio cariologica de Boraginaceas Espänolas, 1. Anchusa. Lagascalia 12: 81-97. [available online at:]

Mabberley D.J. (2008) Mabberley’s plant-book (3th ed.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: XVIII + 1021 p.

Selvi F. & Bigazzi M. (1998) Anchusa L. and allied genera (Boraginaceae) in Italy. Pl. Biosystems 132(2): 113-142.

Selvi F. & Bigazzi M. (2003) Revision of genus Anchusa (Boraginaceae-Boragineae) in Greece. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 142(4): 431-454.

Selvi F., Nardi E. & Bigazzi M. (1996) The ultimate type of Anchusa L. and Lycopsis L. (Boraginaceae). Taxon 45: 305-307.

Valsecchi F. (1976) Il genere Anchusa in Sardegna. Webbia 30(1): 43-68.

Van Ooststroom S.J. & Reichgelt Th.J. (1961) Boraginaceae. In: van Ooststroom S.J. & al. (eds.), Flora Neerlandica, vol. 4(1). KNBV, Amsterdam: 92-140.

Lambinon J. & Verloove F. (avec coll. Delvosalle L., Toussaint B., Geerinck D., Hoste I., Van Rossum F., Cornier B., Schumacker R., Vanderpoorten A. & Vannerom H.) (2012) Nouvelle Flore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des Régions voisines (Ptéridophytes et Spermatophytes). Sixième édition. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise: CXXXIX + 1195 p.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith