This biennial plant was introduced from Europe. A prolific seed producer, it appears as a leafy rosette in its first year. The plant grows 1.5 to 3 feet high with reddish-purple flowers. The basal leaves often resemble a dog’s tongue in shape. Houndstongue is commonly known as the “Velcro weed” because of its small nutlets that are rapidly spread by people, domestic animals, wildlife and vehicles.
Houndstongue grows on ranges, pastures, trails and roadsides and is toxic to horses and cattle, as it contains alkaloids that may cause liver cells to stop reproducing. It is widespread throughout Garfield County.