Pulmonaria rubra

Common Name: pulmonaria 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade, Black Walnut


Easily grown in cool, humusy, organically rich, evenly moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Best in moist soils in part shade. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. Avoid locations in full sun where leaves will often scorch or wilt. Intolerant of wet, poorly-drained soils. Spreads slowly by creeping roots, but is not invasive. Divide plants in fall if they become overcrowded. Plant leaves may retain some color (semi-evergreen) in warm winter climates. Not recommended for planting in hot and humid summer climates south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pulmonaria rubra, commonly known as red lungwort, is a rhizomatous, semi-evergreen perennial of the borage family that grows 12-18” tall spreading over time to 24” wide. It is native to France and Spain. Bristly, elliptic to oblong, nearly sessile, pale green leaves are unspotted. Each leaf has a velvety texture. Bright red, funnel-shaped flowers bloom from late winter into early spring (March-April) usually before the leaves unfold.

Genus name comes from the Latin pulmo meaning lung. In accordance with the Doctrine of Signatures, genus plants were once believed by Medieval herbalists to be an effective remedy for treating lung diseases because the spotted plant leaves purportedly resembled diseased lungs. It is, however, well established today that there is no valid basis for believing genus plants have any value as medicinal plants.

Specific epithet comes from Latin meaning red in reference to flower color.

Common name of lungwort is in reference to the supposed resemblance of the spotted leaves to a disease lung.


No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs and powdery mildew are occasional pests. Leaves can depreciate considerably in extremely hot weather and/or too much sun, particularly if soils are allowed to dry out. Root rot may occur in wet, poorly drained soils.

Garden Uses

Best grown in groups or massed as a ground cover in shady areas. Woodland or shade gardens, shaded border areas or shaded areas of rock gardens. Also can be an effective edging plant for shady paths.