Betonica officinalis

Formerly: Stachys Officinalis
Mint Family (Dead-Nettle) Family [Lamiaceae]  

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31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Grows on heaths and grassy places, but not usually on clay.

23rd July 2004, foot of Whernside Hill, Yorkshire Dales. Photo: © RWD
Flowers bright purple in a short spike.

31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
From above flowers arranged seemingly haphazardly around the stem. Flowe buds have short hairs.

15th July 2005, Middlebarrow Plain campsite, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers long and tubular with a slightly flared opening.

31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Lower lip of flower has four lobes. Upper lip forms a short cowl. Stems square and slightly hairy. A distinguishing feature are the two leaves just below the flower-head, which are angled downwards at 45° and have shallow rounded or blunt teeth.

31st July 2007, Gait Barrows, Silverdale, Lancashire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves a darker green, slightly hairy with blunt teeth and prominently net veined.


Trigonelline, Stachydrine and Betonine, Betonicine and Choline are all alkaloids found within Betony. They are all called 'Betaines', a type of Zwitterion where a nitrogen or phosphorus atom has a positive charge. The negative counterpart is seldom shown - it could be any negative ion, usually the chloride ion since common salt, NaCl, is a ubiquitous source. Choline Chloride is an example of a betaine with chlorine as the negative ion.

Trigonelline (N-methylnicotinic Acid, or Nicotinic acid betaine), is found not only in Betony, but also in Fenugreek seeds, Garden Peas, Hemp seeds, Oats, Coffee and Potatos amongst a few other plants. Trigonelline in coffee is said to impart coffee with some anti-oxidative properties and contribute to its aroma and slightly bitter taste. Trigonelline is also produced within the human body as a result of the metabolism of niacin (Vitamin B3 or Nicotinic Acid), after which it is excreted in urine.

Stachydrine is also present also in Yarrow, Motherwort, Alfalfa (Lucerne), Chrysanthemum and Citrus plants. It is the betaine of L-Proline, and is also known as Proline Betaine. It is an osmoprotectant capable of helping organisms to survive extreme osmotic stress, such as the bacterium E. coli when it finds itself in harsh environments such as in the urine of mammals. The bacterium uptakes the stachydrine from the environment it is in with the help of various internal transport mechanisms. Your Author can find no evidence that Stachydrine is present in plants of the genus Stachys, such as Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) to which Betony once belonged.

Structurally, Betonine is almost identical to Stachydrine, but with an additional hydroxyl group attached to the ring.

Betaine itself is a non-proteinogenic amino acid (NPAA) which can masquerade as an amino acid in the human body and become wrongly incorporated into proteins, which then might not function correctly. But because of great confusion between betaine and 'a betaine' the Betaine shown above is now generally referred to as N,N,N-TrimethylGlycine, and is the betaine originally found in Beet (Beta vulgaris) from which it derives its name.

Choline is just the cation (the part of the ion with positive charge). It can be paired up with any negative ion, but usually this is the chloride ion, making Choline Chloride. Acetyl Choline is another important molecule with the Choline backbone, and is usually found as the chloride, Acetylcholine Chloride. Choline is an essential nutrient for mammals and is usually grouped as belonging to the B-complex vitamins.


Betony is also said to contain a series of PhenylEthanoid Glycosides, Betonyoside A to Betonyoside F plus Acetoside. Other phenolic compounds include Campneosides, Forsythoside B, Leucosceptoside and Tannins.

Shown above is just one of the six PhenylEthanoid Glycosides, Betonyoside F which is found in Betony. The moieties in red are glycosides, two differing 6-membered sugars and one of a 5-membered pentose.

However, he has found two newly discovered Iridoid Glycosides which Betony contains, one a diglycoside called Allobetonicaside (which contains the sugar Allose) and 6-O-AcetylMioporoside as well several already known Iridoid Glycosides, Acetylharpagide, Harpagide, Harpagoside and Reptoside.

Several Terpenoids such as Linalool, Ocimene Phellandrene and Terpinene, the sesquiterpenoids Cadinene, Cadinol, and Caryophyllene plus the diterpenoids Betonicolide and the glycoside Betonycoside B, (which are not to be confused with the PhenylEthanoid Glycosides mentioned above with a very similar name!).

As can be seen, the diterpenoid glycoside Betonycoside B displayed immediately above is very different to the PhenylEthanoid Glycoside shown higher up. What a difference a 'c' makes...

  Betonica officinalis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Lamiaceae  

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Betonica officinalis

Formerly: Stachys Officinalis
Mint Family (Dead-Nettle) Family [Lamiaceae]  

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