SELF-HEAL (Prunella vulgaris)

Self-heal in the RHS bowl

Europe, Asia

A perennial wildflower of fields, pastures and lawns, Self-heal is a plant of the woodland edge. It likes moist soil and sunshine, & will suffer if left to dry out. From June/July to September, LAVENDER flowers appear in whorls.

As it is a member of the mint family, care should be taken to plant Self-Heal either in a container or somewhere it will not take over the garden. That said, in our wildlife garden it appears that birds & other creatures eat any seeds of Prunella before they get a chance to root, as there is never a great increase in Self-Heal from one year to the next.

 Mature plants reach about 1 to 2 feet high (31-61 cm.), at which time they will fall over and attach new roots to the ground. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your pot is not situated flush with the ground. To prevent reseeding, trim back prunella plants after blooming has ceased.
Regular deadheading also maintains the plant’s overall appearance and encourages additional blooming. Once the growing season is complete, prune the plant back to ground level. Note: If harvesting prunella plants for medicinal use, cut the flowering tops and dry them upside down in small bunches. Store these in a cool, dry, and dark location until ready to use.
Gardening Know How: Growing Prunella: Tips For Growing The Common Self Heal Plant


Bees’ Favourite

Self-heal’s persistent root system can make it unwelcome in lawns, except by visiting Honeybees & other insects. One no-more-mowing alternative on the internet included a replacement lawn of nothing BUT Self-heal…  This would definitely be a Bees’ Favourite lawn.

“Selfheal is one of many wildflowers that are part of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Perfect for Pollinators list; its rich nectar attracts bumble bees especially, as well as butterflies and other insects. So by growing selfheal in your garden, you can help promote bio diversity and support the eco-system.”

Selfheal (Prunella Vulgaris) Turf Online Knowledge Base –Mozilla Firefox


Taken to North America by early settlers, it is known there as ‘Woundwort’. An olive green dye is obtained from the stems and flowers of this edible wildflower.

Self-Heal with Hardy Geranium


Medicinal and Herbal

Gerard praised the properties of Self-heal, as did Culpeper : “The juice used with oil of roses to annoint the temples and forehead is very effectual to remove the headache, and the same mixed with honey of roses cleaneth and healeth ulcers in the mouth and throat.”   Maud Grieve, A Modern Herbal

“Prunella vulgaris has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was first mentioned in Chinese medical literature during the Han dynasty (206BC-AD23), mainly for complaints associated with disturbed liver energy. European herbalists have always regarded it primarily as a wound herb”.Demi Bown, RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses


“Self-heal also has antiviral properties and, taken internally as a tea or tincture can help with throat infections, flu and fever. It’s been shown to hinder the ability of some viruses (including the cold sore virus) to replicate”.  James Wong, Grow Your Own Drugs

How to make Self-Heal Tea
1. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried self-heal leaves into a cup of hot water
2. Steep the tea for an hour
3. Drink two or three cups of self-heal tea per day





Botanical painting by J.N.Fitch

British Wild Flowers in Their Favourite Haunts,  A R Horwood, The Gresham Publishing Company, London 1919


Other names: All-heal, Blue Curls, Brownwort, Brunella, Bumble-bees, Caravaun Bog, Carpenter Grass, Carpenter’s Herb, Consolida Minor, Dragonhead, Fly Flowers, Heal-all, Heart of the Earth, Herb, Herb Carpenter, Hercules, Hercules’ All-heal, Hock heal, Hook-Heal (the plant was largely used by the old herbalists for the healing of wounds inflicted by sickles, scythes and other sharp instruments), London Bottles, Panay, Pick Pocket, Pimpernel, Prince’s Feather, Proud Carpenter, Sickle-heal, Sicklewort, Slough Heal, Square Stem, Thimble Flower, Wound root, Woundwort,  Xiakucao.