Western Stickseed
Lappula occidentalis (S. Wats.) Greene
Family: Boraginaceae, Borage
Genus: Lappula
Synonyms: Lappula redowskii
Other names:
Nomenclature: occidentalis = of the west
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant, weed
Medicinal plant
No edibility data

General: annual or winter annual, probably occasionally biennial, simple or variously branched, mostly 5-40 cm tall, short-hairy or with short, stiff hairs throughout.

Leaves: numerous, up to about 6 cm long and 1 cm wide, the basal ones oblanceolate and often withering, stem leaves alternate, oblanceolate to more often linear or linear-oblong, gradually or abruptly reduced to the often more lanceolate bracts of the flower cluster, these seldom over 1-1.5 cm long.

Flowers: several in narrow clusters that elongate to spikes at maturity. Corolla inconspicuous, light blue or white, only slightly, if at all, surpassing the calyx, 2-4 mm long, the limb mostly 1.5-2.5 mm wide. May-July.

Fruits: nutlets, the prickles on the outlets of the edges in a single row, slender or swollen toward the base, distinct or united below to form a rounded, often inflated border. The fruit stalks erect or ascending.


A weed in dry to moderately moist, usually more or less disturbed sites, as along roadsides or on overgrazed ranges, in most parts of MT. Also in most of w. N. America and Eurasia.
Medicinal Uses

The Kayenta Navajo Indians used western stickseed as a lotion for itching. They also made a poultice of the plant applied to sores caused by insects, and a cold tea was used as a lotion for sores or swellings.

Sub taxa:

var. cupulata (Gray) Higgins:
Prickles on (2) 3 or all 4 of the nutlets of each flower fused below to form a prominent, rounded, often swollen border. Centered in s.w. U.S., and occasionally extends northward into our range in MT, ID, OR and s.e. WA.

var. occidentalis (S. Wats.) Greene:
The marginal prickles distinct, occurs essentially throughout the range of the species, and is the commoner phase of the species.

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