European Bugleweed (Lycopus europaeus) *Note: Product is North bugleweed Lycopus virginicus
Bugle in Britain is not the bugle of North herb gardens - there the name refers to species of Lycopus (gypsyweed). The European expectation is of a low creeping, plant making an undulating quilt of shining, ground-covering leaves from which grow spikes of flowers 6 or more inches high on the typical square stem of a labiate. Purple-blue dead-nettle flowers appear in whorls, each whorl supported by a pair of leaf-like bracts carefully placed at right angles to the next.
At close quarters bugle has quiet charm but its particular use is as a foil for other, bigger plants around which it will creep, entirely hiding the soil (which is excellent; soil is a medium for growing plants in, seldom an aesthetic experience in its own right). The wild green form is perfectly acceptable in the garden but the shining, metallic, 'Atropurpurea' is even better, maintaining its colour best in full sun. The beautiful 'Variegata' has marbled leaves of grey-green and white; it is less vigorous and needs at least half-shade if it is not to bleach. All forms enjoy a reasonably moist soil at all times of year - as anyone would guess having met the green one in damp woodland rides.
An early alternative name is mentioned: carpenter's herb, in reference to its supposed ability to staunch wounds from a slipped chisel or saw. Internal bleeding was also so cared for. "The juice of this plant is esteemed good for internal bruises" says Sir John Hill in his Family Herbal, the words hinting that he had not tried it himself.
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Stir 1/4 of a teaspoon into a glass of water and consume 3 times daily, with meals.
Not recommended if you are pregnant or lactating.
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