Pulmonaria officinalis
Common Name: common lungwort  
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Boraginaceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Pink aging to rose-violet maturing to blue
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
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 part shade. Plants usually struggle to survive in hot dry locations. 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. Performs well in the sun-dappled shade of large trees.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pulmonaria officinalis, commonly known as Jerusalem-sage, Jerusalem cowslip or blue lungwort, is a bristly, clumping, slowly spreading, rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial of the borage family. It is a rough-hairy perennial that grows to 12” tall spreading to 18” wide. It is native to forested areas in Europe. Petioled, ovate-cordate basal leaves (3-5” long) are spotted or blotched with white. Sessile, broad ovate, auriculate-cordate stem leaves are shorter. Funnel-shaped, five-petaled flowers (3/4”long) bloom in forked clusters in mid-spring atop sparsely-leaved flowering stems rising above the foliage. Flowers open pink but age to rose-violet before finally maturing to blue. Different colored flowers may be seen on the plant at the same time.

Genus name comes from the Latin pulmo meaning lung. In accordance with the Doctrine of Signatures, lungwort was once believed by Medieval herbalists to be an effective remedy for treating lung diseases because the spotted plant leaves purportedly resembled diseased lungs. However, it is well established today that this is not a valid method in determining a plant's medicinal properties.

Specific epithet means sold in shops. Applied to plants of real or supposed medicinal properties.

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


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 as a path edging. Interesting substitute for hosta.