Narrow leaved lungwort (or Pulmonaria longifolia) is probably not a plant you will all have heard of but it is quite common in this region although it is actually quite rare in GB. It starts flowering in March and continues through April and into May. Depending on the weather and where you are it will be mid March or late March before you see the flowers. These are quite a bright blue and fairly easy to spot if you are walking but not so obvious from a car as they are low down and often mingled in with other vegetation.
This plant grows in semi shade often along roadsides where there is a good hedge or some trees. It likes a heavy soil but will not tolerate too much wet. Close to my house in the Vienne there is a triangle of ground in the middle of a sort of ‘T’ junction and this triangle has a few trees growing in it and underneath there is a nice mixture of wild flowers including this Narrow leaved lungwort. In Norfolk such a triangle of land is known as a pightle – there – not a lot of people know that, especially if they are not from East Anglia.
The leaves will be out now (early March) and are quite distinctive in that they have white spots on them. They are also quite long and narrow as you would expect from the name. It is possible that the name lungwort originates because the greyish white spots on the leaves are somewhat similar to the lesions on a diseased lung……. gruesome or what? The word ‘wort’ is Anglo-Saxon for plant and lots of plant names end in wort like ragwort or stitchwort. So – here we have a plant that looks like a diseased lung! At least the flowers are nice.
There is another plant simply called lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) and it’s flowers are more pinky purple in colour and – guess what -i’ts leaves are somewhat wider but still spotty. I have not noticed this in the Poitou-Charente region but that is not to say it does not occur.