Pulmonaria longifolia
Common Name: lungwort
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Purple-blue
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in cool, humusy, organically rich, evenly moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Best 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 very slowly by creeping roots, but is not invasive. Divide plants in fall if they become overcrowded. Plants are sometimes semi-evergreen (retain some green leaf color in winter) in the warm southern parts of its growing range.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pulmonaria longifolia, commonly known as long-leafed lungwort, is a bristly pubescent, clumping but slowly spreading, rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial of the borage family. It is most noted for its narrow, long-stalked, sharply-tipped, white-spotted, deep green basal leaves which typically grow to 12” long but to only 1-2” wide, forming a dense foliage clump which slowly spreads over time by creeping rootstocks to 24” wide. Leaves are mottled with striking gray-white spots or blotches. Sparsely-leaved flowering stems with ovate-oblong, short stalked to stalkless, cauline leaves (to 6” long) rise above the foliage clump to as much as 16-18” tall in early to mid spring (April-May) topped by nodding branched terminal cymes of funnel-shaped purple-blue flowers (to 1” long). The flower inflorescences of this species of lungwort do not elongate as they do on P. saccharata. Flowers bloom simultaneous to or just before the leaves emerge. Flower clusters are often two-toned because the flowers emerge pink from pink buds but mature to blue.

This plant serves as a classic ground cover for woodland and shade gardens. It is usually more valued for its narrow spotted leaves than for its spring flowers. It is native to Western Europe (Great Britain, France, Spain and Portugal).

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 long-leaved in reference to plant leaf size.

Common name remains today as a description of the resemblance of the spotted plant leaves to a diseased lung.

Problems

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

This lungwort forms a low spreading ground cover which typically performs well in woodland and shade gardens. It is best grown in groups or massed. Effective in part shade areas of woodland or shade gardens, border areas, rock gardens or path edging. Interesting substitute for hosta.