Bugle Ajuga repens..



GARDEN WORTHY ----------------YES



Get to know the Bugle

Bugle is a pretty woodland flower that produces a plethora of blooms arranged in spires, however, you are just as likely to encounter this species {and sub species} of this plant in gardens as in their native woodland homes.This member of the mint family Labiatae, flowers much earlier in the season than the true mints and does not possess the familiar scent as they do. It is a perennial rootstock that has a creeping habit-hence the species name reptans indicating a creeping plant. This plant has long been traditionally used in medicinal preparations.

Below Bugle in full bloom.



The flower spikes of the bugle are instantly recognizable especially in their woodland home. The tapering flower stalks reach a height of between 6-9inches {15-23 cm].  Along the ground they send out runners in the manner of a strawberry plant. Along this runner a pair of leaves develop. Just below the leaves roots form and anchor themselves in the soil.

Below, winter foliage of the bugle


The runners---

The runners die off during the winter, however, the anchored roots of the previous year await to develop into individual plants as the call of spring awakens them from their slumbers. This is the plants main way of reproduction for the seeds are seldom fertile in the U.K. Thus without setting a single seed the plant will have offspring all around it. Over time  a large established colony occurs.

The erect flower stalks are square again this is typical of the mint family. Lower leaves on the stem are stalked while those that occur higher lack stalks. The foliage is arranged in opposite pairs they are of a blunt oblong shape. The margins are almost entire on some leaves but toothed on others. The leaves are often tinged bronze or purple. { photograph at the top of the page} clearly show the colours.

The flowers that appear on the diagnostic spikes are composed of whorls{rings} around the stem. In each whorl there are usually six individual flowers of a blue colour .The small leaves that are formed beneath each whorl are tinged with purple also. I have encountered in my time flowers that are white  in this case the foliage is of a more normal green colour. The individual flowers  consist of a short upper lip, the lower lip is three lobed but appears as though it is one lipped. The stamens project from the flower. After the flowers have faded they are succeeded by small blackish seeds, however, as previously mentioned most of these are infertile.



The parts used for medicinal purposes. The whole herb gathered in May ans June, predominantly used as a dry herb.

In archaic times the plant was used by herbalists to treat a variety of afflictions. infusions of the plant were said to have been very useful  at stopping haemorrhage's and spitting of blood, this is due to its astringent properties.

The plant was used in the production of a syrup to be taken inwardly and in the form of an ointment to be applied externally.

A decoction of the leaves and flowers taken in wine was said to dissolve congealed blood and inward bruises. The plant was employed against gangrene, ulcers and fistulas. An alternative name for the plant is the middle comfrey and like its larger namesake {common comfrey} it was used to heal broken bones in the same manner.

Modern day uses are now considered limited to an infusion of the flowers and foliage to be applied externally in the form of a lotion to counteract the symptoms of bruising.

Anyone inclined to use bugle in herbal preparations should see WILD HERB ADVISE. {click on link at the top right hand side of the page}

GARDEN--- Bugle is a fine plant for shady damp borders or among trees especially where there is a pathway meandering through the garden. However, a close eye is needed to stop its spread into parts of the garden where it is not required.

SIMILAR LOOKING PLANTS--- the herb self heal is superficially similar as regards the flower shape and is common in grassy situations. They both belong to the same family. This plant is also much sought after by herbalists and will have a link on this site in the near future.

Below--the selfheal


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