Blue, Beautiful and Bee-Loved
It has been introduced to North America and is naturalised in parts of the continent, being listed as an invasive species in Washington.
Echium is grown as an oilseed crop because of the fatty acid composition of the seed oil. Like borage and evening primrose oil, it contains significant amounts of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), but it also contains the rarer stearidonic acid (SdA).
Reasons for Concern: Contact dermatitis for humans, potential toxicity to livestock due to pyrrolizodine alkaloids, a host for several crop pathogens, and a potential increaser on grazed rangelands due to its unpalatable nature (this concern probably precludes worries of toxicity for cattle ranchers; however, sheep and horses may be a different story)
Current Wyoming Distribution: Recently found in Laramie County, just west of Cheyenne along a 5 mile stretch of rail-road tracks. The Wyoming Pest Detection Program has initiated a detailed mapping effort of the area and will be finished soon.
The good news appears to be that the Laramie County infestation has only spread a few miles in 18 years. However, the infestation appears to be expanding out away from the railroad corridor into both grazed and un-grazed rangeland and along the roadside.
How did it get to Laramie county? We don’t yet know, but the railroad is a good candidate based upon the location of the infestation.