Prunella vulgaris, Heal-All

Prunella vulgaris is considered weedy and common, but when cultivated in a mass, has a nice groundcover effect with small lance or wedge-shaped leaves and thick short flower spikes of small purple flowers held atop square-shaped stems. It is in the mint family, but not aromatic.


Easy & Everywhere

Heal-All grows in full sun or shade and prefers moist or mesic soils, but is tough and adaptable. Said to attract butterflies and bumblebees, however pollinators have not been widely observed on its flowers in Floyd County, VA by this author. Grows up to two feet tall to form a tangled subshrub structure if encouraged. Foliage turns brown by early fall after blooming, though plants which have been mowed or cut back will often bloom later in the fall if permitted.

Human Uses

A Valuable Plant Forgotten

Prunella vulgaris has a long history of medicinal use and lore, as its many common names testify. However, it is widely overlooked today both by herbal medicine and pharmaceutical science. It is also edible, raw and cooked. Read more at and


Native Status Unclear

Prunella vulgaris‘ native status is not absolutely clear, and the Flora says this on the native status: “Both native and introduced genotypes occur in Virginia, the native ones (var. lanceolata (W. Bart.) Fernald) being strikingly more floriferous and colorful. However, many specimens cannot be adequately assigned to var. because of extensive hybridization and intergrading diagnostic characters. Since it is not possible to map native and introduced populations separately, the species is treated here as native.” University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension speculates that Prunella vulgaris “is probably so widely distributed because our ancestors found it useful, though modern medicine essentially ignores it.” (UACE).


Scientific Name

Prunella vulgaris

Other names: Self-Heal, Woundwort, Heart-of-the-Earth, Carpenter's Herb, Brownwort, Blue Curls

Family: Lamiaceae (mints).

Native Status

Native and Introduced to Virginia

Native Range Map (Virginia Counties) for Prunella vulgaris

Source: Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora

“Native in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, and is common in most temperate climates. It was introduced to many countries in the 1800s and has become invasive in the Pacific Islands, including Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.” (Wikipedia, 2023).

Other Floyd County native Prunella: none.

Culture Notes

Height: 1-2 ft, Spacing guide: 6-9". Bloom Color: Purple. Bloom Time: Late Spring/Fall (May-Sep). Light: Full sun to part shade. Moisture: Semi-dry to moist (submesic to subhydric) conditions. Soils: Moist well-drained to somewhat dry soil, tolerates calcium carbonate.


USDA Zones: 4-9. National Wetland Status Indicator: FACU. C-Value: 2. Successional Role: Pioneer, post-disturbance.

Virginia Ecology

Virginia Habitat: "Mesic to dry upland forests and woodlands, well-drained floodplain forests, fens, seeps, pastures, roadsides, and other shaded to open, disturbed habitats. Common throughout." (The Flora, 2023). Virginia Natural Communities:

Ecosystem Services

Wildlife Supported: Host plant for the Clouded Sulphur butterfly (NC State Extension).


Propagate by seed and vegetatively by creeping stems that root at the nodes. Seed Germination:

Where to Buy

So widespread, it’s not generally sold.