Prunella vulgaris, known as common self-heal or heal-all, is an herbaceous plant, in the genus Prunella. The leaves are lance shaped, serrated, and reddish at tip, 1 inch long and half an inch broad, and growing in opposite pairs down the square stem. Each leave has 3-7 veins that shoot off of the middle vein to the margin. The stalks of the leaves are generally short, but can be up to 2 inches long. Prunella vulgaris grows 2-12 inches high, with creeping, self-rooting, tough, square, reddish stems branching at leaf axis.
The flowers grow from a club like, somewhat square, whirled cluster; immediately below this club are a pair of stalk less leaves standing out on either side like a collar.
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Flowers are two lipped and tubular. The top lip is a purple hood, and the bottom lip is often white; it has three lobes with the middle lobe being larger and fringed upwardly. Flowers bloom at different times depending on climate and other conditions, but mostly in summer (from June to August).
Self-heal propagates both by seed and vegetatively by creeping stems that root at the nodes.
Self-heal is edible:
· The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads.
· The whole plant can be boiled and eaten as a potherb.
· The aerial parts of the plant can be powdered and brewed in a cold infusion to make a tasty beverage.
· Medicinally, the whole plant acts as a poultice, on wounds, to promote healing.
· A mouthwash made from an infusion of the whole plant can be used to treat sore throats, thrush and gum infections.
· Internally, a tea can be used to treat diarrhoea and internal bleeding.
©Al (Alex-Alexander) D. Girvan. All rights reserved.