December 12, 2020
We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update! The following post was originally published on April 23, 2020.
The small blue flowers of Cynoglossum virginianum (commonly known as "wild comfrey") are easy to miss, since they're often pretty tiny in comparison to the rest of the plant. The Greek name "Cynoglossum" roughly translates to "dog's tongue," and the plant is sometimes called "blue houndstongue." This is because the size and shape of the leaves bear a striking resemblance to -- you guessed it -- a dog's tongue!
This wild plant is native to the eastern U.S. and much of Canada, and it thrives in habitats with high humidity, low temperatures and low competition. For these reasons, forests are a good place to spot this plant. It's believed that Cynoglossum virginianum is adapted to thrive following occasional forest fires, as these fires help eliminate the competition. It's been anecdotally observed that more of these plants are found in forests that have experienced fires in the recent past.
Back in the 1800s, herbalists believed that this plant could be used as a sedative and to treat respiratory infections and other ailments. However, large doses of this plant can damage your liver, so like most things you find in the woods, it's best to play it safe and leave it alone.
ABOUT #BenInNatureSocial distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.
NEW: TRIVIA CHALLENGE
You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONSIf you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!