Blue & Purple Labiates

Wild Clary Common Skullcap Bugle Meadow Clary

What are they?

These species are all members of the Lamiaceae, the Labiate family. Within this very variable family, there are a number of blue or purple-flowered species which vary greatly in leaf shape and form, but which are similar in flower colour and in flower structure.

Where are they found?

This group includes a wide range of species, some of which are natives of woodland and roadside, while others are non-natives that may be found in urban or disturbed sites or on waste ground.

Identification

This is an artificial grouping of members of the Labiate family, based purely on flower colour. Plants on this page should be readily identifiable by differences in their leaves and growth style.



Bugle     Ajuga reptans

A common native of woodland and shady roadsides. Flowers May to July. A low, creeping plant that forms spreading mats. The leaves vary from green to reddish or purple, with dark purple, cultivated forms occasionally turning up in the wild as garden throw-outs. Flowers may occasionally be pink or white.

Bugle Bugle Bugle Bugle
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Ground-ivy     Glechoma hederacea

A very common native of woodland, shady roadsides, churchyards and disturbed ground. Flowers March to May. A low, creeping plant that forms extensive, spreading mats and can be a pernicious weed in gardens. Leaves kidney-shaped and softly hairy.

Ground-ivy Ground-ivy Ground-ivy Ground-ivy
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Common Selfheal     Prunella vulgaris

A very common native of woodland rides, roadsides, churchyards, lawns and other grassy places. Flowers June to September. A low, creeping plant that forms spreading mats. The flowers open a few at a time from between large, often reddish, bracts. The seeding heads with large flower bracts are distinctive later in the year. Flowers deep bluish-purple, but sometimes white or pink.

Common Selfheal Common Selfheal Common Selfheal Common Selfheal
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Cut-leaved Selfheal     Prunella laciniata

Introduced from Europe. Occasionally grown as a garden ornamental and rarely found as a garden throw-out. Flowers June to September. A low, creeping plant that forms spreading mats. The flowers open a few at a time from between large, bristly, bracts. Flowers usually white, sometimes with a pink tinge. Very similar to the native Common Selfheal but easily told by its deeply cut leaves.

Cut-leaved Selfheal Cut-leaved Selfheal Cut-leaved Selfheal Cut-leaved Selfheal
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Common Skullcap     Scutellaria galericulata

Widespread in wetlands but uncommon, except in parts of the Norfolk Broads. Flowers June to September. An upright plant, but delicate and easy to miss among taller vegetation. The flowers appear in pairs in the leaf axils and are followed by unusual, slipper-like seed capsules.

Common Skullcap Common Skullcap Common Skullcap Common Skullcap
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Low Cat-mint     Nepeta x faasenii

The common cat-mint grown in gardens and occasionally surviving in the wild for a time from garden throw-outs, or spreading vegetatively onto roadsides from neighbouring properties. Flowers June to September. An untidy perennial that flops over and forms low mounds of vegetation. Leaves are densely grey-hairy and the whole plant has a very strong aroma.

Low Cat-mint Low Cat-mint Low Cat-mint Low Cat-mint
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Common Sage     Salvia officinalis

Popular as a garden plant and culinary herb. No recent records from the wider countryside but it has been recorded in the past. Flowers June to September. Garden plants often involve varieties with variegated or purple leaves. A woody-based, perennial subshrub with leaves that are softly felted and deeply-veined.

Common Sage Common Sage Common Sage Common Sage
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Wild Clary     Salvia verbenaca

A patchily-distributed native, preferring slightly chalky soil. Can be quite common in parts of West Suffolk and NW Norfolk on roadsides and all kinds of grassy banks. Flowers June to August. The narrow flowers are carried in whorled clusters, well above the mostly basal leaves with the outer parts of the flowers being covered in glandular hairs. The leaves are broadly ovate and strongly lobed at the margins.

Wild Clary Wild Clary Wild Clary Wild Clary
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Meadow Clary     Salvia pratensis

Although an uncommon native in the UK, this species only occurs in East Anglia as a garden escape or where deliberately planted or included in 'widlflower' seed mixes. Flowers June to August. Compared with the much more common Wild Clary, this species has larger flowers, with the glandular hairs also scattered on the petals themselves. The leaves are larger and are bluntly-toothed, not lobed.

Meadow Clary Meadow Clary Meadow Clary Meadow Clary
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Whorled Clary     Salvia verticillata

Introduced from mainland Europe. Believed to have been formerly introduced as a constituent of imported grain, but there appears to have been no recent records of this species in East Anglia. Flowers June to August. The pale, purple-blue flowers hang in tight clusters. The leaves are heart-shaped with broadly-rounded bases.

Whorled Clary Whorled Clary Whorled Clary Whorled Clary
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Hyssop     Hyssopus officinalis

Introduced from mainland Europe as a culinary herb but now much less often grown in gardens than formerly. Once recorded in Norfolk as a roadside garden escape. Flowers June to August. Deep blue-purple flowers have very long stamens that project well beyond the rest of the flower.

Hyssop Hyssop Hyssop
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