Doug took today’s photo of Prunella vulgaris in Tonganoxie, Kansas. As always, we extend our thanks to him for such a serene, dream-like image. (Original)
Prunella vulgaris is a member of Lamiaceae (mint family), which consists of between 233 and 263 genera and between 6900 and 7200 herb, tree, vine, and shrubby species. These species are generally aromatic, and the family includes several of the most common culinary herbs (thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, basil, lavender). Plants don opposite leaves either decussate (each pair at right angles to the pair below) or whorled (more than two leaves arising at each node), and they put forth bilaterally symmetrical flowers equipped with 5 united petals and 5 united sepals.
Prunella is a small genus of 7 square-stemmed herbaceous species whose reputations as panaceas inspired the common collective designators heal-all and self-heal. Most species are native to Asia, Europe, and north Africa, though today’s plant occurs (often as a quick-spreading lawn weed) in North America as well.
Prunella vulgaris grows a creeping, tenacious stem that reaches about 70 centimetres in height and bears opposite pairs of lanceolate leaves. Around midsummer, plants put forth two-lipped, hooded flowers of purple and white from in between their pointed green bracts. Specimens thrive when sited in moist soils and exposed to full sun. They are easily propagated by seed cuttings or, better, whole reclining stems (which often have roots conveniently attached), or by seed, which should be sown in early spring.