Ajuga

AJUGA ,  Ajuga reptans

aka:¬†Bugle (not to be confused with Bugle Weed), Carpenter’s Herb, Sicklewort, Self-Heal

Ajuga is a perennial ground cover, blooming from the end of April to the beginning of July. The purplish blue blossoms are on stalks 6-9 inches tall. The upper leaves are tinged with the same color, so that the entire upper part of the plant has a bluish appearance. A white variety is sometimes found and it has normal, green leaves.

Long ago, ajuga was thought to drive away various forms of disease. People believed it possessed great curative powers. The early writers speak of the plant as the Abija, Ajuga, Abuga and Bugula, and the common English name, Bugle, is clearly a corruption of one or other of these forms.

Parts Used Medicinally: The whole herb, gathered in May and early June, when the leaves are at their best, and dried.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Bitter, astringent and aromatic. In herbal treatment, an infusion (tea) of this plant is still considered very useful in arresting haemorrhages and is used for coughs and spitting of blood in tuberculosis patients. In its action, it resembles digitalis, lowering the pulse and lessening its frequency, it allays irritation and cough, and equalizes the circulation and has been termed ‘one of the mildest and best narcotics in the world.’ It has also been considered good for the bad effects of excessive drinking. The roots have by some authorities been considered more astringent than the rest of the plant.

Ajuga reptans has dark green leaves with purple highlights. It is a spreading ground cover that grows in a dense mat. The leaves grow 5–8 cm (2-3 in) high but in the spring it sends up 10-15 cm (4-6 in) tall flower stalks with many purple flowers on them. Bugle is also known as “carpenter’s herb” due to its supposed ability to stem bleeding.

Ajuga, bramble and thistle flowers are favourite nectar sources of the Pearl-bordered fritillary, High brown fritillary, Small pearl-bordered fritillary and Dark Green Fritillary. If you are planning a butterfly garden, consider adding ajuga to the mix to attract these fritillaries.