A perennial herb hardy in zones 4-9, the purple flowering cobs may be picked, dried and made into a tea. Sturdy plants do well in moist garden conditions or growing among grasses. Plant in spring to early fall in open, sunny locations, and loamy soil. Grows up to a foot tall, bearing small blue and purple flowers on compact spikes all summer. Loved by bees, it is an excellent choice for meadow gardens.
Prunella vulgaris is a perennial plant native to Europe but can also be found growing in parts of Asia and the Unites States. In open and exposed situations, the plant is diminutive, while in more sheltered spots it is larger in all its parts. Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, alongside rivers and lakes, meadows, thickets, forest openings, woodland borders, pastures, and abandoned fields.
The name Prunella was originally ‘Brunella’ or ‘Brunellen’, a name given by the Germans as it was used to treat “die Breuen”, an inflammatory mouth and throat problem, common to soldiers in garrisons. The doctrine of signatures also indicated its use for throat problems, for its corolla was seen to resemble a throat with swollen glands.
The species name vulgaris is a Latin adjective meaning common, or something that is familiar to most people. It is often given as a species name to plants that are the most prevalent of their genus.
Commonly known as Self Heal, it is also known as the heal-all and cure-all plant as it is thought to have all manner of properties that can be of assistance in healing in general. According to the 16th-century herbalist John Gerard, ‘there is not a better wounde herbe in the world’. The 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that the plant is called selfheal because ‘when you are hurt, you may heal yourself’.
In addition to being very well known as Self Heal, Prunella vulgaris has many other common and local names: Square stem, Thimble flower, Sickle-heal, Sicklewort, Slough-heal, Hookweed, Panay, Proud carpenter, Herb carpenter, Hercules’ all-heal, Hook-heal, Carpenter’s herb, Heart of the earth, Brunel, Caravaun bog, Carpenter grass, Blue curls, Brownwort, Heal-all, All-heal, Bumble-bees, Herb, Fly Flowers, Heart of the Earth, Hook-heal, London Bottles, Pick Pocket, Pimpernel, Prince’s Feather.
Self-Heal is one of those common wildflowers that have found their way to North America. It is known there as ‘Heart of the Earth’ and ‘Blue Curls.’