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147  Echium plantagineum L.

Boraginaceae

Nome comune: Viperina piantagginea

Echium plantagineum, commonly known as Purple Viper's Bugloss, is a species of Echium, native to western and southern Europe (from southern England south to Iberia and east to the Crimea), northern Africa, and southwestern Asia (east to Georgia).[1][2] It has also been introduced to Australia, South Africa and United States and is an invasive plant. Due to a high concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the shoot it is poisonous to grazing livestock, especially those with a simple digestive system like horses. The toxins are cumulative in the liver and death results from too much Paterson's curse in the diet. E. plantagineum has become an invasive species in Australia, where it is also known as Paterson's Curse, Patterson's Curse or Salvation Jane (particularly in South Australia). Other names are Blueweed, Lady Campbell Weed or Riverina Bluebell. In the United States the species has become naturalised in parts of California, Oregon and some eastern states. [5] In Oregon it has been declared a noxious weed.[6] Seeds of the E. plantagineum plant were found in a study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (part of the National Institutes of Health) to lower triglycerides. Researchers at Wake Forest University and the Harvard Center for Botanical Lipids fed mice a diet supplemented with echium oil and found that it had benefit similar to fish oil in lowering triglyceride levels in blood plasma and the liver.[7] Echium plantagineum contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids and is poisonous.[8] When eaten in large quantities, it cause reduced livestock weight or even (in severe cases) death. Paterson's Curse can kill horses[9] and irritate the udders of dairy cows and the skin of humans. After the 2003 Canberra bushfires over 40 recorded horses were put down after eating the weed.[10] Because the pyrrolizidine alkaloids can also be found in the nectar of Paterson's curse the honey made from it should be blended with other honey to avoid the toxins entering the human food chain in high concentrations. The alkaloid levels in one teaspoon of salvation jane honey are generally above the EU recommended weekly minimum[citation needed] human consumption for these chemicals.