Species Factsheets

Lithospermum canescens

Hoary Puccoon

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State Status: N
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Threatened (PT)
Federal Status:

Global Rank: G5 rank interpretation
State Rank: S2

Did You Know?

The leaves of this species can be used for tea to treat favors.

Lithopsermum canescens


Hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens) is a showy perennial with a stout taproot. It can grow from 10-38 cm tall. Short white hairs cover almost all of the plant including the flowers. The genus Lithospermum means “stone-seeded”; therefore, the seeds, or nutlets, produced by this plant are very hard, shiny, and smooth like stones.

Rank Justification

Imperiled in the nation or state because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the nation or state.


In Pennsylvania, it is found on river bluffs, dry rocky hillsides, and barrens, with a preference for limestone substrate.

Survey Dates

Flowers late April - May




Throughout the range of this species, habitat loss, land conversion for development, and displacement by invasive species have all played a part in its decline. In some cases, the communities where this species grows are themselves rare or have succeeded into a different community types due to the overgrowth of woody species and invasive species. Some of these preferred community types, like the xeric prairies, depend on fire to “weed out” atypical species.


Maintenance of known populations and preservation of the rare communities where hoary puccoon grows will be crucial to its survival. Removal of overgrowth and invasive species with the integration of fire regimes, when appropriate, will help to preserve the integrity of the sites. The management of the known sites requires long term monitoring of populations. Potential sites for restoration should be evaluated.

Conservation Status Map


Map Legend

NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.


  • NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
  • Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
  • Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
  • 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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