Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris
Family - Lamiaceae
Also known as - Heal All, Carpenter Grass, Thimble Flower
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Selfheal is a perennial plant found in most temperate climates, thought to be a European native it is widespread and common in the UK growing in moist areas, waste ground, grassland, woodland edges and clearings. It grows to 5-30cm (2-12in) high, with creeping crimson coloured square prostrate stems branching at leaf axis and rooting at the nodes. Lanceolate to ovate serrated leaves about 2.5cm (1in) long and 1.5cm (0.6in) wide, are reddish at tip, and grow in opposite pairs down a square stem on stalks up to 5cm (2in) long but generally much shorter. 3-7 major veins from the leaf centre vein to the margins.
The flowers which appear from June to August grow from a whirled terminal cluster with a pair of leaves immediately below, individual flowers have two petals, a purple upper hood and a usually white three lobed lower petal forming a tube with the top. They mature to brown capsule of four nutlets. Selfheal is a valuable addition to grassland managed for wildflowers and wildlife, but can spread and become invasive if unchecked.
FBCP do not advise or recommend that Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris is eaten or used as a herbal remedy. Selfheal can be eaten in salads, boiled as a vegetable or as an infusion. A decoction has been used to treat sore throats as a mouthwash, and a poultice for treating minor injuries and burns.
Photo ©2008 Zoya Akulova
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