Prunella vulgaris

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photo by Ben Legler

Scientific Name: Prunella vulgaris

Family: Lamiaceae

Common names: self-heal, all-heal, healall



Ranunculus occidentalis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
Phylum: Spermatophyta
Subphylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteranae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Prunella L.
Species: Prunella vulgaris L.


General: Perennial herb from an enlarged stem-base or short rhizome, fibrous-rooted; stems solitary or clustered, erect to spreading or reclining, 10-50 cm long, short-hairy to glabrous, 4-angled.

Laeves: All stem leaves or some basal; opposite, lanceolate or elliptic to broadly egg-shaped, 2-7 cm long, 0.7-4 cm wide, entire or obscurely toothed, glabrous or lightly hairy; stalks 5-30 mm long; lower leaves often broader with more rounded base than upper.

Flower: Inflorescence of many flowers in dense terminal spikes, 2-5 cm long, about 1.5-2 cm wide, usually subtended by upper leaves; bracts kidney- to egg-shaped, about 1 cm long, reddish, tips pointed, margins hairy; corollas tubular, blue-violet or occasionally pink or white, 10-15 mm long in bisexual flowers, 8-11 mm long in pistillate flowers, fine-hairy inside, 2-lipped, the upper lip hood-like and entire, the lower lip 3-lobed with broad middle lobe; calyces dark green to purplish, 7-10 mm long, 2-lipped, lips longer than tube, the upper lip squared-off and with 3 short awns, the lower lip with 2 lanceolate spine-tipped teeth.

Fruit: Nutlets, 4 clustered together, egg-shaped, smooth. [1]

2 varieties in Salish Sea area, Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata, a widespread native variety, with middle cauline leaves about one third wide as long and more tapering towards the base, and Prunella vulgaris var. vulgaris, introduced from Europe, middle cauline leaves about half as wide as long, with broadly rounded bases, stems often more decumbent than erect.[2]


Alaska south, both sides of Cascades to California, East to Atlantic.[2]


Common in Mesic to dry roadsides, waste places, lawns, fields and open forests in the lowland, steppe and montane zones. [1]


Prunella vulgaris can be propagated by stolon, division, or seed. Propagation by stolon yields larger plants in a shorter amount of growing time. Stolons root wherever they touch soil. Cold-stratify seeds for approximately one month. Seeds can be started in flats, and when the plants are large enough to handle (approximately eight weeks) they can be transplanted into individual pots and grown to the desired size. Seeds may also be sown directly on site, preferably in late Fall to early Spring. [1]


Prunella vulgaris has a long history of medicinal use everywhere it grows, as alluded to by its common name. [3]

Fore example, use as a skin medicine for boils, cuts, bruises, and inflammation by Salish and Quinalt peoples, Haudenosaunee use as an infusion for shortness or heaviness of breath, or for beravement, Niitsitapi use as an eyewash to keep eyes moist in harsh winds.[4]


Prunella vulgaris

Seed sample from: 2010

Average Measurement: 2.1 x 1.6 x 1.1

Measurement Range: L: 1.8 - 2.3, W: 1.3 - 1.9, D: 0.75 - 1.2


Shape: Seeds narrow at hilum end and broadening at opposite apex. Hilum protruding in a “v” or “u” shape.

Color: Seeds dark brown with black ribbing. Hilum white.

Surface: Seeds longitudinally striated with darker lines. Entire seed is very glossy, especially hilum.

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical PRVU lat elliptical.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: elliptical PRVU long elliptical.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  3. Bowcutt, F., & Hamman, Sarah. (2016). Vascular plants of the South Sound prairies (First ed.). Olympia, Washington: The Evergreen State College Press.
  4. Native American Ethnobotany Database. Retrieved from

Prunella vulgaris. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.