by Stephen Mifsud
   13 Apr 2024      ()
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Helminthotheca echioides   (Bristly Oxtongue)

Helminthotheca echioides  (ASTERACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: Sep-2022)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Helminthotheca echioides - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 13-Apr-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Helminthotheca echioides(L.) Holub
Published in Diss. Univ. Wien 116: 67. (1975)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Helminthia echioides (L.) Gaertn.
Synonym that was used for long in Malta: Picris echiodes L.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Asteraceae Bercht. & J.Presl (=Compositae) (The Daisy or Sunflower Family)
123 species from the Asteraceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Bristly Oxtongue

Maltese name(s) :

Ilsien il-baqra xewwikija

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

March – August

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :


Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Steppe, abandoned fields especially with clayey soil, disturbed weedy ground, footpaths in arable ground, valley sides.
Botanical Description: Annual or biennial. Stems 30-90 cm, with rigid, often tubercle-based hairs and often with some slender spines. Leaves with numerous unequal, rigid hairs, the larger thickened at the base or tubercle-based, and often with scattered spines; basal 35-250 x 15-100 mm, elliptical to oblanceolate or oblong-oblanceolate, obtuse to acute, sinuate to dentate, narrowed at base into a winged petiole; lower cauline similar to basal but with semiamplexicaul petioles, the upper lanceolate to ovate, sessile, amplexicaul. Capitula numerous. Involucre 12-20 x 10-15 mm; bracts with pectinate-ciliate margins, the outer ovate-cordate, acuminate the inner lanceolate, slightly longer than the outer. Achenes 5-7 mm, transversely muricate, with beak about as long as the body, the inner reddish-brown, more or less straight, the outer whitish, curved.
Chromosome number: 2n=10
Distributional range: S. Europe widely naturalized further north, though often inconstant in its appearances.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, the Azores, the Balaeric Islands, Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Russia and former USSR, Sardinia, Turkey (European part), Introduced in  Austria and Liechtenstein, Belgium, Britain (excl. Northern Ireland and Channel islands), Czeck Republic and Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, Romania
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Ab(A) AE(G) Ag Al Au(A) dBe(L) BH Bl(I M N) dBr Bu dCa(C F G L P T) Cg Co Cr Ct Cy ?Eg Ga(C F M) Gg Gr dHb(E N) He Ho Hs(G S) Ir It Jo Le Li Lu Ma dMd(D M P) Mk Rf(CS) Sa Si(M S) dSk Sl Sr Sy Tn Tu(A E) Uk(K) [Au aAu(A L) Az(C F G J L M P S T) Be Br nCa(H) aCs Da nGe Hb(E) aHe Hu aIt aLa aLt No nPo Rm]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

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Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (6 images)
   Helminthotheca echioides   -   Image Code: HTTEC-0.
   Helminthotheca echioides   -   Image Code: HTTEC-1.
   Helminthotheca echioides   -   Image Code: HTTEC-2.
   Helminthotheca echioides   -   Image Code: HTTEC-3.
   Helminthotheca echioides   -   Image Code: HTTEC-4.
   Helminthotheca echioides   -   Image Code: HTTEC-5.

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