Thursday, September 2, 2010

Warning: Pristine Gardeners Need Not Read...

By Gardennia nutii

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878

I’d like to introduce you to a weed whose virtues have been discovered by me this summer: Prunella vulgaris (also known as selfheal, heal-all and heart-of-the-earth). In the past this plant was the source of much angst, but this year I stopped mowing my ever shrinking lawn and the pretty purple flowers of P. v. have been allowed to flourish along with the clover and dandelions. My ‘lawn’ is a sea of blossoms which greet busy bees and provide more color for my yard.

Prunella vulgaris is part of the mint family, so I’d probably be better served ridding my yard of it, but now that I’ve seen the flowers and read about its medicinal properties I’ve become content to focus my weed pulling efforts elsewhere. From Wikipedia: “The whole plant is medicinal as alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. It is taken internally as a medicinal tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea, sore mouth and throat, internal bleeding, and weaknesses of the liver and heart.”

Tonight as the sun sets, I’ll sip my ‘heal-all/clover flower’ tea blend, eat my dandelion greens, and revel in my unkempt but savory lawn.

Do you have any weeds you love? Let us know!


  1. I once saw a whole lawn of this stuff in Eugene—the owner weeded out everything else—and it was beautiful. I have some in the "rough" part of my lawn, and it easily survives high mowing.

  2. I, too, have been experimenting with Prunella, probably P. vulgaris. It grows well in considerable shade where grass won't. I'm allowing it to spread naturally across an area that was at one time filled with sparse grass. It can be manually mowed and it will still flower on much shorter stems. Bees do love it. I can't wait until it's fully grown in!