Prunella vulgaris (Self-heal)

Plant Info
Also known as: Heal-all
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; roadsides, open woods, fields
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:6 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] A thick spike, 1 to 2 inches long, of ½-inch long, irregular, tubular flowers. The upper lip is blue to purple, the lower lip has 3 lobes, the 2 side lobes small and light blue to lavender, the center lobe white to lavender and fringed all around the edges. Dark purple-tipped stamens and a white style arc along the inside of the upper lip. The calyx is bell-shaped, about 3/8 inch long, green to purple, and sparsely hairy.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 2¾ inches long and to 1 inch across, lance to egg-shaped, rounded at the base, pointed or blunt at the tip, mostly toothless, with the surfaces hairless to sparsely hairy. Leaf stalks are variously hairy, up to 1 inch long on the lower plant becoming shorter as leaves ascend the stem, with the uppermost leaves sometimes stalkless. Stems are square, variously hairy, and typically much branched.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The persistent calyx holds 4 1-seeded nutlets.


There are 2 recognized varieties, both of which are found in Minnesota: var. lanceolata leaves are lance-oblong, hairless or sparsely covered in soft hairs; var. vulgaris leaves are egg-shaped to oblong and slightly larger than var. lanceolata, the upper surface hairless or variously covered in stiff hairs. While this species (or at least one of the varieties) is generally considered native to North America, the DNR considers both varieties introduced in Minnesota. We are undecided on that particular subject.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jody K - Mahtomedi
on: 2009-07-17 16:57:06

Wild in the wood/wetland behind White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church. Hadn't seen this before, thanks for the help in ID.

Posted by: Ellen
on: 2010-04-25 12:22:17

This is the first time I've seen a photo that remotely resembles the plant growing in our back lawn. I'm surprised that the aggressive "weed" might be something native!

Posted by: Rodney - st louis county near two harbors along fox farm road
on: 2010-07-05 08:06:30

It seemed to me at first to be a mint (squarish stem) but it didn't have much mint aroma. Thanks for the web site.

Posted by: Jim - Voyageur's Nat'l Park, Kettle Falls Hotel
on: 2010-07-12 22:05:04

Also in bloom was the lesser purple fringed orchid within a few feet. Found in the wetland between the hotel and the dam.

Posted by: Gail - central Cass County in N.C. Minn.
on: 2010-07-19 11:36:03

I've got heal-all growing in several spots on my rather untended lawn.

Posted by: Linda - Washington County
on: 2011-07-07 16:45:43

Lots of this plant blooming now at Sunfish Lake Regional Park in Washington County

Posted by: scott - rice county
on: 2012-08-30 08:43:15

i first came to be acquainted with this plant several years ago, then actively sought to know it. it has powerful healing properties, and makes a soothing ointment for skin ailments.

Posted by: Ian - Minneapolis
on: 2013-07-19 14:23:01

So many resources have conflicting messages on if this is a native plant or not; but I think I have figured it out. There are actually 3 subspecies of this plant in the US, and two of them are native to the US, and only one is native to Minnesota . The third is a native of Europe but present in most of the US. Minnesota's native is: Prunella vulgaris spp. lanceolata The non native is: Prunella vulgaris spp. vulgaris The last, indiginous to Alaska: Prunella vulgaris spp. aleutica

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2013-07-19 16:16:12

Ian, there are indeed 3 subspecies in North America, with subsp. aleutica limited to Alaska. The other 2 are still questionable in my mind, though. USDA lists them both as native to the lower 48. MN DNR has them both listed as "introduced" on their latest plant list, but they have had "typos" on the list before so I am skeptical and still looking for a definitive reference!

Posted by: Jackie - Washington County
on: 2014-08-06 20:43:43

This plant first appeared on my property in West Lakeland Township in 2013 and returned again this summer 2014.

Posted by: Rocky - Delano
on: 2015-01-09 00:17:52

I am wondering if this plant would be a good one to plant for bees? We have a few hives and I'm looking for some wildflowers for my bees to pollinate. Also, I've read that the plant is strongly anti-estrogenic. I don't recall seeing this plant around our house, so I would be interested in getting some seeds.

Posted by: Kris - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2015-07-12 11:58:30

Found patches of this growing in sunny, dry sandy soil by the road. Haven't noticed this in previous years.

Posted by: Karl - portage west of Isabella Lake (BWCA)
on: 2015-07-12 20:31:28

found on the edge of a bog

Posted by: Donna - Cloquet River near Independence
on: 2016-07-19 03:53:51

At first I thought it was Purple Fringed Orchid since that is what I was looking for but looked here to find it is Heal-All! Beautiful color and really cool plant. I also found Purple Fringed Orchid nearby along with Michigan Lily and Poison Ivy!

Posted by: Joan - grand Portage state park
on: 2016-10-06 19:19:39

Saw this in early October at the beginning of the trail to High Falls. It was mixed in with purple aster.

Posted by: John - from WI
on: 2017-06-08 22:40:00

A question, really. Is it allelopathic? While walking today, we came across some and a person thought that it was, but I can't find any information on the web that suggests that this is true.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-06-09 07:56:17

We don't have any information on this plant being allelopathic.

Posted by: Ruth E - Aitkin County
on: 2017-07-07 12:14:44

We've seen this plant in our yard in an area that is controlling runoff from a neighbor's parking lot. Lovely purple amonst the daisies and various yellow flowers.

Posted by: Kenny h - Shooting Star Scenic By way West of LeRoy
on: 2017-07-12 17:27:27

I was in the Fringed orchid area of the shooting star scenic by way, which is EXTREMELY rich in native plants...and low and behold, there it was SELF guess is that it is native.

Posted by: Anna H - Afton
on: 2017-07-13 21:21:38

Found this in our backyard in Afton, MN today (7/13/17). Growing along the edge where our lawn meets the weedy undergrowth and woods. Beautiful!

Posted by: Brandy Y - Crow Wing County, Crosby/Emily area
on: 2017-07-27 13:52:06

This has popped up, and is taking over my horse pasture. Pretty, but the horses don't eat it.

Posted by: Ellen S - Edina
on: 2018-06-10 16:35:37

Are there similar-looking Lamiaceae? What is the way to tell them apart?

Posted by: Frank - Maple Plain
on: 2019-08-13 09:09:22

Discovered today at the edge of our home's clearing in the woods, adjacent to weedy mostly shade lawn. Gets morning sun for two or three hours at best. Growing among the hog peanut. Never seen on the property before -at least not in highly visible location.

Posted by: Connie Grant Nelson - North Washington County
on: 2020-07-01 14:25:25

A volunteer in my established flower garden, very healthy and may prove to provide close ground cover. Have never seen this on our woodland property.

Posted by: Linda S Sjoquist - Blaine
on: 2020-07-03 09:46:30

First time I've seen this plant. Discovered it growing in with the Wild Geraniums on the east side of my house. Looked for it in my Northwoods Wild Flowers Book.

Posted by: Kristine Bradof
on: 2021-04-20 10:44:04

I noticed it last year in the wettest part of my yard (originally cedar swamp) near wild geranium and interrupted and sensitive fern. Jack in the pulpit also grew nearby years ago (will search for them again this year). Michigan Flora considers it native with a caveat, "Native in Eurasia and also in North America, although some thoroughly established weedy variants are presumably introduced."

Posted by: Jillian Fejszes - Marshall and Kittson County
on: 2021-10-01 13:34:37

Seen on private and public land in Marshall and Kittson County.

Posted by: Elizabeth therkilsen - New Hope
on: 2022-06-22 11:52:13

Profuse in our back lawn, and first time I've noticed it. I am gradually converting our weedy lawn into perennial beds. Last year wild violets ruled to roost.

Posted by: Robin G - Eagan
on: 2022-08-18 21:46:19

Found one today at Lebanon Hills. I posted a photo on FB Mn Naturalists if you want to see it. Another member identified it for me.

Posted by: Valerie Brady - NE of Duluth
on: 2023-01-11 14:23:43

This species (I think vulagaris) is taking over our lawn quite aggressively. I feel like it just showed up in the last few years, at least this is when I noticed it. I'm glad it has useful properties and is supposed to be good for pollinators since it seems rather unstoppable. Between it and white clover, I think we'll become a low-mow lawn without any active intervetion on our part.

Posted by: Laura Segala - Fazendin Native Plant Pollinator Garden in Plymouth
on: 2023-08-09 15:52:05

Last year volunteers converted a one-acre patch of turf in a Plymouth park to a native plant garden. We planted 50 native species including self-heal. I am very pleased with how the self-heal is spreading already in the garden. It is covered with bees and skipper butterflies. The garden is surrounded by weedy turf and I wouldn't mind at all if the self-heal decides to spread into the fact I hope it does. Apparently self-heal is included in many "bee lawn" seed mixes. We also planted an "urban food forest" of fruit trees and berry bushes next to the garden. The idea is that the pollinators from the garden will also pollinate the food forest. I think that self-heal would make a great addition to the turf surrounding the fruit trees.

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