Learn the benefits of Prunella Vulgaris. Self heal, heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth, carpenter’s herb, brownwort and blue curls are just some of the names this flower go by.
By Elena Pollen
Lying in a field on a sunny Saturday, listening to the bees buzz as my friend and partner attended to the hives.
Purple heads sprang up from the earth all around me, and I tried to ask my friend via WhatsApp if this was the protected mountain tea that her friend picks from his cow fields.
I had no storage space on my phone to download a plant ID app, so as there was no reply, I popped one of the heads in my pocket and continued to amble around the fields and surrounding forest.
Later, when I got home, my friend had replied to say that no, it wasn’t the protected mountain tea, but it was something called prunella vulgaris.
I looked it up and found that its other names such as heal-all come from the fact that, as a medicinal plant, it really does help everything.
‘Heal All has been used as an alternative medicine for centuries on just about every continent in the world, and for just about every ailment known to man’
Damn. What a shame I’d left it behind.
‘Prunella is taken internally as a herbal tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhea, sore mouth and throat, internal bleeding, and weaknesses of the liver and heart. It is showing promise in research for herpes, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and many other maladies.’
My friend’s field was a good hour’s walk uphill and it felt ridiculous to go back there after spending so long there before, plus it was already late.
But I still wanted the flowers.
I’d read that it tasted like black tea and thought it could be perfect for a locally sourced caffeine free version (heal-all chai anyone?)
So, I got in my car and drove back up the mountain, armed with my finest wicker foraging basket.
I filled the basket with heads, feeling so glad to have come back to the spot that faces a range of mountains, watching the sun cast shadows over the peaks.
It felt good to spend a Saturday collecting flowers for tea, and learning about a medicinal herb new to me.
Has anyone else had experiences with this herb? Or know any other unusual plant medicines that can be found in the rolling hills of the European countryside?
How far will you go to forage the season’s gifts?