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Reddish Vale Country Park

Flowers/July

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Selfheal

Selfheal is a native perennial, very common throughout Britain on grassland, waste places, woodland clearings, roadsides and as a garden weed.

Grows to a height of 20cm.

 

Selfheal (Prunella Vulgaris) is a member of the mint family, the name comes from the medieval German "brunella, derived from die bruen - an affliction of the mouth for which the plant was thought to be a remedy. The plant was said to resemble a throat so, therefore, it followed that it should be used for treating throat problems. Folklore tells us that it should be gathered when the Dog Star is rising.

It used to be believed that Selfheal was a holy herb sent by god to cure all kinds of diseases of man and beast. It is said to drive away the devil. Some native American tribes made tea from the roots, which they drank before hunting to help sharpen their observational powers.

The Chinese used Selfheal for disorders of the liver. Called xu ku cao in Chinese herbalism it is widely used to treat conjunctivitis, swollen neck glands and mastitis. Used for treating wounds, cuts and bruises. Research has found that Selfheal can help to lower blood pressure and has antibiotic effects on some organisms causing enteritis and urinary infections, and hard to heal wounds.

Bees are the plant's main feeders-a ring of hairs inside the flowers prevents small insects from taking the nectar but not from pollinating.   Only bees can fertilise the plant by landing on the lower lip and thrusting their tongues down the tube. At  the same time, the anthers drop their pollen on the bee's head. The corolla of the plant resembles a hook and so the plant was thought to heal wounds incurred from sickle or scythe.  

 

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