Prunella vulgaris

Common Names: Common self-heal, heal-all
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Mint family

Self-heal was once proclaimed to be a holy herb and was thought to be sent by God to cure all ailments of man or beast. It was said to drive away the devil, which lead to the belief that self-heal was grown in the witches garden as a disguise. The root was also used to make a tea to drink in ceremonies before going hunting by one Native American tribe to sharpen the powers of observation.

Grows 5 to 30 cm high, with creeping, self-rooting, tough, square, reddish stems branching at leaf axis. The leaves are lance shaped, serrated, and reddish at tip, about 2.5 cm long and 1.5 cm broad, and growing in opposite pairs down the square stem. Each leaf has 3 to 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 5 cm long. The flowers grow from a clublike, somewhat square, whirled cluster; immediately below this club are a pair of stalkless leaves standing out on either side like a collar. 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.

It is often found growing in moist areas, waste ground, grassland, woodland edges, and usually in basic and neutral soils. Flowers bloom at different times depending on climate and other conditions, but mostly from June to August in the USA.

Edible Notes: Self-heal is edible: the young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads; the plant in whole can be boiled and eaten as a potherb; and the aerial parts of the plant can be powdered and brewed in a cold infusion to make a beverage.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.