yodellee's picture

Bistly ox-tongue

Observed: 7th May 2011 By: yodelleeyodellee’s reputation in Plantsyodellee’s reputation in Plantsyodellee’s reputation in Plants
poss bristly ox-tongue 2
poss bristly ox-tongue 2 1

Possibly Bristly ox-tongue growing in thin soil spilling from hedge to pavement

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Bristly Oxtongue (Helminthotheca echioides) interacts


Chalkie's picture


is such a horrible name! Reminds me of nasty parasites. Ugh.

yodellee's picture

Thanks for updating the name.

Thanks for updating the name. Anyone know why this is preferred? Picris echiodes still seems commonly referred to.
I guess its good to have an evocative latin as well as common name- helps the visual stick in the memory!

Chalkie's picture

Only a recent change

My 1995 copy of Stace's British Flora still had Picris - so lots of flower books will still have the old name in. I think it's just changed in the most recent edition of Stace.

Most people don't change their books very often (my most-used flower book is dated 1978!) so it takes a long time for new names to become familiar.

Latin names get changed when someone discovers an older name that people hadn't realised was being used, (the oldest name has prior rights as far as I remember) or when scientists have done research that shows that plants are more or less closely related to each other (eg by DNA research). I don't know the reason for this change, but was interested to find that Bristly Ox-tongue used to be used as an anti-helminthic (ie anti-worm) treatment - so presumably that's where the name comes from.

AlanS's picture

Interesting ...

Thanks, Chalkie, for explaining the "anti-helminthic" connection. Even though I posted the new name as a revision, I certainly didn't welcome it, but now you have put some sense to 'Helminthotheca', maybe I can get used to it.

I am fairly certain that the new generic name is based on DNA studies. Although we are going though some unwelcome name changes at the moment, I think that those names in the current Stace are likely to stabilise in the next few years and it is generally best to follow them.


yodellee's picture


Thanks Chalkie, thanks Alan for explanation of name changes. Interesting you should mention worm treatment as the helminth name reminded me of engrossing reading in the humanure handbook in which Joe Jenkins goes in some detail into his process of composting human wastes. Chapter 7 of his online available version looks at the survival rates of various pathogens including helminths that might survive: