MINT FAMILY - Labiatae: Self-heal; Heal-all; Blue Curls; Heart-of-the-Earth; Brunella; Carpenter-weed
Flowers--Purple and violet, in dense spikes, somewhat resembling a clover head; from 1/2 to 1 in. long in flower, becoming 4 times the length in fruit. Corolla tubular, irregularly 2-lipped, the upper lip darker and hood-like; the lower one 3-lobed, spreading, the middle and largest lobe fringed; 4 twin-like stamens ascending under upper lip; filaments of the lower and longer pair 2-toothed at summit, one of the teeth bearing an anther, the other tooth sterile; style thread-like, shorter than stamens, and terminating in a 2-cleft stigma. Calyx 2-parted, half the length of corolla, its teeth often hairy on edges. Stem: 2 in. to 2 ft. high, erect or reclining, simple or branched. Leaves: Opposite, oblong. Fruit: 4 nutlets, round and smooth.
Preferred Habitat--Fields, roadsides, waste places.
Distribution--North America, Europe, Asia.
This humble, rusty green plant, weakly lopping over the surrounding grass, so that often only its insignificant purple, clover-like flower-heads are visible, is another of those immigrants from the old countries which, having proved fittest in the fiercer struggle for existence there, has soon after its introduction here exceeded most of our more favored native flowers in numbers. Everywhere we find the heal-all, sometimes dusty and stunted by the roadside, sometimes truly beautiful in its fresh purple, violet, and white when perfectly developed under happy conditions. In England, where most flowers are deeper hued than with us, the heal-all is rich purple. What is the secret of this flower's successful march across three continents? As usual, the chief reason is to be found in the facility it offers insects to secure food; and the quantity of fertile seed it is therefore able to ripen as the result of their visits is its reward. Also, its flowering season is unusually long, and it is a tireless bloomer. It is finical in no respect; its sprawling stems root easily at the joints, and it is very hardy.