Common self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) is a lawn weed which is common in lawns across England. It is also sometimes called heal-all, cure-all, carpenter weed, the prunella plant or heart-of-the-earth.
It is an herbaceous, perennial herb, which can grow up to 30cm high. In lawns it rarely grows above the level of the grass. It has a thick dark green, square stem along which the lance shaped, serrated leaves grow off a short stem in opposite pairs. The leaves are about 2cm long and 1cm wide and are slightly hairy.
In the UK, self-heal flowers about May through to September and the flowers are a beautiful, intricate mix of purple, violet and brown which are very noticeable in a green grass lawn. The leaves do look similar to Common Chickweed.
Self-heal is a very vigorous lawn weed and spreads quickly through seed and by stolons running in every direction along the surface of the soil. It can appear throughout the year, often in isolated patches throughout any untreated lawn.
Common self-heal in medicine and cookery
Self-heal is so called due to it’s long history of medicinal use. Traditionally it is thought to have all manner of properties that can be of assistance to healing in general. The leaves were often applied to wounds to promote healing as it is said to have beneficial antibiotic and anti-inflammatory effects. In Asia and South America it is widely used as in an ointment to heal stubborn cuts and bruises that wont heal on their own. In western medicines it is also used as an ingredient for the treatment of heart disease, mouth ulcers, sore throats, gum infections, liver complaints, allergies and in a tea can used to treat diarrhoea and internal bleeding. There is also promising research being conducted into the use of self-heal in the treatment of AIDS.
Like most herbs, self-heal is edible and can be used in salads, soups, stews, and boiled as a pot herb. It can also be powdered and made into a tasty tea.
Self-heal is probably the most useful of lawn weeds, however it is a still a weed in your lawn. It can be easily eradicated through application of a regular lawn treatment.
If you have a problem with common self-heal in your lawn, then get in touch. I will be happy to advise.