Information on Self-heal

Common Name: Self-heal
Scientific Name: Prunella vulgaris
Irish Name: Duán ceannchosach
Family Group: Lamiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Self-heal is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Also known as 'Heal All' and 'Ceannbhán beag', this low-growing (to 20cm) little perennial of bare and grassy places is widespread throughout Ireland.  Generally hairy with creeping stems and paired oval leaves, it bears its blue-violet flowers (10-15mm long) in short, dense, cylindrical whorls which have purplish bracts and calyx teeth.  The individual little tubular flowers (12mm) have two-lobes, the upper concave, the lower flat and three-lobed.  This is a plant beloved by bees and moths, is native to Ireland and belongs to the family Lamiacae. 

I first identified this plant in 1973 at Cleggan, Co Galway and photographed it in 2005 in Gibletstown. Later in 2009 I came across the more rarely found white and pink blooms (pictured below) near Tullycanna, Co Wexford.  They were growing alongside the violet variety.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Self-heal has long been regarded to have medicinal virtues as its name would suggest.  In the seventeenth century Nicholas Culpeper wrote of it as a wound herb 'whereby when you are hurt you may heal yourself'. It is now know to have anti-allergenic constituents and to act as an anti-inflammatory agent . 

Our folklore cites it thus from Co Kerry : 'Self heal if gargled cures sore throat.'

From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC S.455:234.