more curse than salvation – Echium plantagineum

Paterson's Curse - a useful plant

In March 1908, local authorities met in Albury, NSW to discuss noxious weeds.  On that occasion, Echium plantagineum (otherwise known as Paterson’s Curse, Salvation Jane or Blue Devil) was considered a ‘useful plant’ and excluded from the list of weeds to be exterminated.  It was another three years before Albury Municipal Council followed the example of neighbouring councils by declaring Paterson’s Curse a noxious weed.

These days, comprehensive control and eradication programs are in place. The CSIRO in Australia notes here that Paterson’s curse is considered a great resource for apiarist but is toxic to most grazing animals and is Australia’s worst broadleaf temperate pasture weed.

The plant has the capacity to generate thousands of seeds each season.  Carpets of purple and blue can be seen across many paddocks when the Paterson’s Curse is in flower.