Gypsywort. Lycopus europaeus.

Image courtesy of Karelji.   CC BY-SA 3.0 License.


This species is known by alternative common names such as Bugleweed, European bugleweed and water horehound , in the UK it is commonly referred to as Gypsywort. It is a relatively common plant found by shady riverbanks and other shady water bodies. It is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia and has become naturalized elsewhere.  In North America another species Lycopsus americanus has also wrongly been referred to as Lycopsus europaeus.

This plant belongs to the mint family.




Gypsywort in the foreground.

Image courtesy of TeunSpaans CC BY-SA 3.0 License.Wolfspoot R0012816.JPG


This species attains the height of between 30-100 cm {1-3+ feet } high but can be somewhat sprawling. The stems may be simple or branched. The leaves are arranged opposite to each other  they have short stalks or they may be stalkless, they are lanceolate  3-8 cm { one and a quarter to three and a quarter  inches} long.. The margins are coarsely toothed, hairless or sparsely hairy.

The tiny flowers are unstalked and are borne in tightly packed whorls  in the axils of the upper leaves. The calyx {sepals etc} are 2.5- 4 mm long  bell-shaped with five bristly teeth. The Corolla { Petals etc} is 4 - 6 mm long  with a pure white upper lip and a three-lobed ,red spotted lower lip. The two stamens protrude from the flower. They flower from July to September  in reed beds,ditches and overgrown pond margins.

The flowers are arranged in tight whorls.

 Image courtesy of H.Zell    CC BY-SA 3.0 License.Lycopus europaeus 003.jpg

Components of Gypsywort. Public domain Wikicommons.

Illustration Lycopus europaeus0.jpg

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Medicinal and other uses.

This plant takes the common name of Gypsywort was taken from the fact that European travellers extracted a dye from the plant to darken their skin so that they would look Egyptian. The Egyptians were famed for their travelling and performing at market towns.

The plant was used medicinally to treat slightly overactive thyroids and nervous heart conditions. It was said to act as a sedative and diuretic. This plant acted in the manner of bugle in medicinal medicine. { See Bugle,Ajuga repens in the content banners above}.

This information is for historical uses only and not recommended for self medication.