This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
A perennial herb of the wayside and the damp pasture, that has fallen upon evil days, so far as reputation is concerned. Time was when it was considered one of the most useful medicines for inward and outward wounds. Culpepper says "he needeth neither physician nor surgeon that hath Self-heal and Sanicle to help himself," and he prints that sentence in italics, to impress it more firmly upon his readers. On this account it was called Carpenter's Herb, Hook-heal, Sickle-wort, and Prunella. The last is a softened form of Brunella, from the German Braune (quinsy), because it was believed to cure that complaint. Its reputation has passed, but the names remain, and one has been adopted as its scientific appellation.
There is a suggestion of the Bugle in its general appearance, but seen together (see page 21) there is no danger of mistaking them. In Ajuga the whorls are far apart, in Brunella they are contracted into a dense head. The corolla here is broader, the upper lip erect and vaulted, whilst in Ajuga it is short and notched.
The plant has the square stem, lipped flowers, and four stamens, characteristic of the Labiate order, a creeping root-stock, and stalked leaves; these are long, oval, toothed, or with entire margins. The bracts of the flower-spike have purple edges. Leaves and stem more or less hairy; flowers purple, sometimes white or crimson. July to September. Occasionally small flowers are produced later, in which the anthers are suppressed, but the pistil is perfect.
This is the only British member of the genus, whose name has been explained above.
Brunella vulgaris. - Labiatae. -