Showing posts with label groundcover. Show all posts
Showing posts with label groundcover. Show all posts

18 Jul 2023

Prunella - weed or wonder?

Once again, Prunella vulgaris, aka Self Heal, has returned to the veg patch with renewed vigour. It's a perennial, an enthusiastic self-seeder, low growing, edible, medicinal and a food source for bees. Sounds good, yes?

Prunella herb selfheal, purple flowering in meadow
Photo via Google Creative Commons licence from Wallpaper Flare

I sowed seeds for this about ten years ago because of its appeal to bees and other pollinators and since then it has sporadically re-appeared over the years to fill cracks in the brick paths.  

Initially I was drawn to the look of the flowers and their appeal to pollinators. Its flower stems should reach a height of at least six inches but, in the drought conditions of my veg patch, flowers remained tucked among the leaves and it looked more like a weed between the paths.  A few were left to make the paths look inhabited but most were dug out of the borders.

More recently I have had to reevaluate my opinion of this plant as I've discovered what a useful herb this is - both medicinal and edible.  Like so many herbs, they're not just tasty but have hidden benefits (see my post on Immuni-tea!).  I've not yet tasted Prunella but will remember to try a few of its leaves in my salad in future ...  although bearing in mind that the leaves are best picked in spring or early summer. (So late July is possibly a bit late in the season for first tastes.) 

Prunella has a common name of Selfheal or Heal All.  It's antibacterial, antiviral, edible and a useful summer herb for bites and stings when made into a decoction, ie, steeped in boiling water. I've been nibbled several times in this hot weather so that's definitely good to know! 

Another of Prunella's folk names is Carpenter's Herb, so called for its effectiveness in healing cuts; this makes it a good herb for me in my gardening work as I'm regularly nicked by rose thorns and pyracantha!  

If you like the sound of this useful herb, more can be learned about it here and seeds bought from Jekka's Herbs. I, for one, will definitely be resowing more Prunella next spring or looking to propagate a few plants by division.

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