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Thursday - April 25, 2013

From: Huntsville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Medicinal Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Sharing Selfheal with Texas Friends
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have discovered selfheal plants in my yard. When and how do I collect the seeds or do I just dig up plants to share with friends? I understand this is actually an herb. I love identifying wildflowers in my area.

ANSWER:

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) is a native plant throughout most of North America (except the most northern regions) and is often found in lawns and moist, shady locations.

From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database… Its favorite habitat includes moist fields, gardens, pastures and along woodland edges in the eastern and southern portions of Texas. It can be grown most anywhere, with a little extra water in very dry conditions. In very hot areas, give it a spot that is protected from the hot afternoon sun.

The Plants For a Future website contains the following information about growing Prunella vulgaris from seed that might be helpful with your quest to share this plant with friends.

Seed - sow in mid spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in mid to late spring. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Seeds can be collected from the ripe or mature (dried) seed heads. The seed head will turn brownish when it is ripe. Check frequently so you don’t miss getting the seed when they are ripe and before they fall to the ground. If you have to harvest the seed when it is not quite ripe, you may be able to finish ripening it in a sealed paper bag. There are four nutlets/seeds per head.

In addition, The Seed Site online has a very good webpage with details and images of the seed head and seeds.

Also, there is more information on the USDA NRCS website has a factsheet on Prunella vulgaris and report that Flowers bloom progressively in the spike from the lower to upper end. Bloom occurs April to September, depending on the latitude and elevation. Each flower produces four smooth, egg-shaped, one-seeded nutlets that are retained in the persistent calyx. The nutlets are primarily distributed by flowing water, grazing mammals and birds.

Dividing selfheal and transplanting it is also a very good way to share this plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

Common selfheal
Prunella vulgaris

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