Prunella vulgaris

Mint / Dead-Nettle Family [Lamiaceae]  

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5th July 2002, Eskdale Valley, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Often quite a low plant in grass or on the lower slopes of mountains.

21st June 2007, Roman Fort, Castlefield, Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Possibly a garden variety of Selfheal, if there is one other than Large-flowered Selfheal.

9th July 2005, Hope, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD

23rd July 2005, Nelson, Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Photo: © RWD
But can become vigorous when undisturbed, reaching up to 50cm.

21st June 2007, Manchester Photo: © RWD
Has square stems. Hairy stems, leaves, flower bracts and flowers. Prunellas' Scales in side-view :-)

15th July 2005, Carnforth, Lancs. Photo: © RWD

28th June 2011, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Hairy pointed oval leaves in opposite pairs on a square stem.

Photo: © RWD
A striking radial arrangement of blue-purple flowers from above.

3rd July 2015, ex alkali works, Nob End, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A vacated calyx right in the centre is where once a flower resided. The calyx is 2-lobed, the upper lip is longer than the lower and is more or less level at the top with 3 very short teeth, the lower half lip has 2 long teeth. The calyx is edged in a reddish-brown but will eventually all turn a beetroot-red after the flowers have vacated. Each flower is also in the axil of a strongly-modified bract.

3rd July 2015, ex alkali works, Nob End, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Tucked right under the flower cowl are two stamens with first blue turning violet x-shaped anthers on long filaments.

28th June 2011, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Sepal teeth beetroot purple and highly pointed. Lower lip of flower has two smaller side-lobes. The upper cowl houses the male organs.

26th September 2008, Greenside Mine, Glenridding, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
After the deep-purple florets have died and fallen out, this is the faded remains. It looks like a different flower!

26th September 2008, Greenside Mine, Glenridding, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The faded remains.

26th September 2008, Greenside Mine, Glenridding, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The faded remains: 2 + 2 + 6 + 6-recurring bracts; all flowers having vacated.

Can be mistaken for : the garden variety called Large-flowered Selfheal (Prunella grandiflora) but that has larger flowers and can easily be distinguished from Selfheal by the noticeable gap between the uppermost leaf-pair and the base of the flower-head (Selfheal has no gap between the base of the flower-head and the top-most leaf pair). Thus, none of the above specimens are Large-flowered Selfheal, despite some of them having quite long flowering heads; the topmost leaf-pair is always just under the flowerhead (and the flowers are not large). The corolla, at maybe 20-30mm across and extending well beyond the radius encompassing the calyxes, is larger than that of the 10-15mm of Selfheal. Large-flowered Selfheal is introduced and naturalised, but only occurs as a short term relic. It inhabits banks or grassy places.

Hybridizes with : Cut-leaved Selfheal (Prunella luciniata) to produce Prunella intermedia which differs in having toothed leaves and creamy-white flowers. At the very least, the uppermost leaf-pairs of Cut-leaved Selfheal are deeply divided to about the mid-rib, the corrola is, at 15-17mm across, slightly larger than the 10-15mm of Selfheal and the flowers are creamy-white or white (only rarely pale-blue).

Some similarities to : Wild Thyme (when flower heads viewed hastily from above) but wild thyme has flowers that are much more mauve than the dark-blue of Selfheal.

Beware of several garden varieties.

It grows in grassy places such as lawns and woods, but also on the lower slopes of mountains.

Selfheal has been shown to have a variety of pharmacological effects including anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-oxidative, anti-microbial, anti-mutagenic and cytotoxic and has long been employed in traditional medicine.

Prunellin is a possibly unique, water-soluble anionic polysaccharide found in Selfheal with a molecular weight of over 10 kilo Daltons, and therefore it is not possible to show the chemical structure on these pages. It obtains its name from Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) and exhibits anti-viral properties and also prevents the replication of HIV-1.

Selfheal also contains Rosemarinic Acid, a polyphenolic ester of Caffeic Acid and 3,4-diHydroxyphenol lactic acid. It inhibits several biological pathways including Interleukin 2, Leukotriene B4 biosynthesis, and some protein kinases. It is also an anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory, and found not only in Selfheal, but in many other members of the Dead-Nettle [Mint] Family such as in Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, Thyme and Peppermint and many others.

  Prunella vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Lamiaceae  

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Prunella vulgaris

Mint / Dead-Nettle Family [Lamiaceae]  

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