Fact Sheets


Prunella vulgaris L.

Family :

Famille :


Synonym(s) :

Synonyme(s) :

Prunella vulgaris subsp.parviflora Ehrh.                            (CABI 2022; POWO 2022)

Common Name(s) :

Nom(s) commun(s) :


(English) (GC 2016; Tropicos 2022; USDA-ARS 2022)
Prunelle vulgaire (French) (Darbyshire 2003; GC 2016)
Self-heal (English) (CABI 2022; Tropicos 2022; USDA-ARS 2022)
Carpenter-weed (English) (Tropicos 2022)
Brunelle commune (French) (Darbyshire 2003)
Xia ku cao (Chinese) (CABI 2022; Tropicos 2022)

  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) nutlets

  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) nutlets

  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) nutlet

  • Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris) nutlet, side view

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Regulation :

Remarques Réglementation:

  • CFIA Weed Seeds Order - Class 4: Secondary Noxious Weed Seeds
  • CFIA Weed Seeds Order - Class 5: Noxious Weed Seeds

Regulation Notes:

Distribution :

Répartition :

Exact native range obscure, present throughout most of North America, Europe, northern Africa and Asia and introduced in other temperate areas such as Australia, New Zealand and southern Africa (Danthine et al. 2022; eFloras 2022; USDA-ARS 2022). Both native and introduced populations occur throughout Canada except in Nunavut and Northwest Territories (Darbyshire 2003; Brouillet et al. 2010+).

Habitat and Crop Association :

Habitat et Cultures Associées :

Old fields, gardens, pastures, grasslands, lawns, turf, thickets, open forests, riparian and wetland sites, roadsides, railway lines and disturbed areas (Darbyshire 2003; DiTomaso and Healy 2007; eFloras 2022).

Economic Use, cultivation area, and Weed Association :

Utilisation économique, zone de culture et association de mauvaises herbes :

Duration of Life Cycle :

Durée du cycle vital:


Dispersal Unit Type :

Type d’unité de dispersion :


General Information


In the United States, P. vulgaris plants have been sold as ornamental plants, and have been used as a groundcover in the Northwestern United States (Young-Mathews 2012). Authors have split Prunella vulgaris into subspecies, and consider P. vulgaris subsp. lanceolata native in North America, and P. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris as introduced (USDA-ARS 2022).

In European and Chinese traditional medicine P. vulgaris plants and flowers are utilized for sore throats, intestinal aliments, migraines, fevers and as a health promoting tonic (Danthine et al. 2022). This species is also reported to have both antiviral and antibacterial properties (Oh et al. 2011).


Prunella vulgaris plants (Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org)



  • Nutlet


    • Nutlet length*: 1.3 – 2.0 mm; width: 0.9 – 1.3 mm
    *Note: minimum and maximum of 10 seeds in a normal range of this species using image measurement (ISMA 2020)

    Additional size from literature:

    • Nutlet length: 1.8 mm; width: 0.9 mm (eFloras 2022)


    • Nutlet is egg-shaped, slightly trigonous in edge view

    Surface Texture

    • Nutlet surface with ridged reticulation visible under magnification, appears stippled
    • Nutlet has grooves along the edge and in the centre of each side


    • Nutlet is shiny reddish-brown coloured
    • Surface grooves outlined with thin dark brown lines along groves or edges

    Other Features

    Point of attachment

    • Point of attachment at the narrow end of nutlet, surrounded with a triangular-shaped piece of white tissue

    Other features

    • Nutlets produce mucilage when wetted in hair-like strands on the surface grooves located along the edges and centre of the nutlet sides
  • Seed


    • Seed size is similar to nutlet size


    • Seed is oval or egg-shaped

    Surface Texture

    • Surface is smooth


    • Translucent brown coloured

    Other Features

    Other than hilum

    • Seed coat is attached to the inside of the nutlet
  • Embryo


    • Embryo partially fills the seed


    • Embryo spatulate shaped(Martin 1946)


    • Endosperm is soft-textured and translucent brown coloured

    Other Features

    • Embryo is in an axial position

Identification Tips


The triangular-shaped piece of white tissue at the end of the nutlet is a feature of the Prunella genus that distinguishes it from other genera in the Lamiaceae. Of secondary importance to distinguishing Prunella species are the thin dark brown lines outlining a shallow groove in the middle of at least one side.

Additional Botany Information



  • Flowers of P. vulgaris are gathered into dense whorls 2-4 cm long at the end of the flowering stem (eFloras 2022)
  • Flowers are purple or white coloured
  • Flowers are generally 1.3 cm long (eFloras 2022)
  • One flower is capable of producing four seeds (CABI 2022)

Vegetative Features

  • Stems are square and 5-30 cm long and square (CABI 2022)
  • Leaves are arranged in opposite pairs (CABI 2022)

Similar Species


Similar species are based on a study of seed morphology of various species, and those with similar dispersal units are identified. The study is limited by physical specimen and literature availability at the time of examination, and possibly impacted by the subjectivity of the authors based on their knowledge and experience. Providing similar species information for seed identification is to make users aware of similarities that could possibly result in misidentification.

Prunella grandiflora (L.) Turra 

P. grandiflora is native to woodlands in Europe, and is used as an ornamental plant (USDA-ARS 2022). Nutlets are generally larger than P. vulgaris (length*: 1.5 – 2.3 mm; width: 1.2 – 1.8 mm), are oval or wide egg-shaped, dark reddish-brown coloured with up to six dark lines along the central groove on the flat side compared to two lines on P. vulgaris nutlets. P. vulgaris and P. grandiflora hybrids have been recorded from the United Kingdom and northern Europe (CABI 2022).

Prunella laciniata (L.) L.

P. laciniata is native to Northern Africa, Europe and Asia on stony ground and shrubby slopes (Bojňanský and Fargašová 2007; USDA-ARS 2022). Nutlets are generally larger than P. vulgaris (length: 2 – 2.3 mm; width: 1.1 – 1.3 mm, Bojnansky and Fargasova 2007) and are oblong shaped with pointed ends, P. vulgaris nutlets are egg-shaped.

*Note: minimum and maximum of 10 seeds in a normal range of this species using image measurement (ISMA 2020)

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Bojňanský, V. and Fargašová, A. 2007. Atlas of Seeds and Fruits of Central and East-European Flora. Springer, The Netherlands. 1046 pp.

Brouillet, L., Coursol, F., Meades, S. J., Favreau, M., Anions, M., Bélisle, P. and Desmet, P. 2010+. VASCAN, the database of vascular plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/ Accessed February 16, 2022.

Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI). 2022. Invasive Species Compendium, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/journal/cabicompendium Accessed February 8, 2022.

Danthine, S., Paul, A., Jansen O., Ducrey, A., Richel, A., Lognay, G., Maesen, P., Mutwale Kapepula, P., Mouithys-Mickalad, A., Franck, T., Frédérich, M. 2022. Prunella vulgaris L. seeds: a promising source of lipids, proteins, and original phenolic compounds presenting high
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement 26: 1-15.

Darbyshire, S. J. 2003. Inventory of Canadian Agricultural Weeds. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Branch. Ottawa, ON.

DiTomaso, J. M. and Healy, E. A. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Vol. 1. 834 pp. University of California, CA.

eFloras. 2022. Electronic Floras. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louise, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA., http://www.efloras.org Accessed February 8, 2022.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Secretariat. 2022. https://doi.org/10.15468/39omei Accessed via https://www.gbif.org/species/5341297 Accessed December 29, 2022.

Government of Canada (GC). 2016. Canadian Weed Seeds Order. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2016-93/page-2.html (English) https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/fra/reglements/DORS-2016-93/page-2.html (French)

International Seed Morphology Association (ISMA). 2020. Method for Seed Size Measurement. Version 1.0. ISMA Publication Guide. https://www.idseed.org/authors/details/method_for_seed_size_measurement.html

Martin, A.C. 1946. The comparative internal morphology of seeds. The American Midland Naturalist 36: 513-660.

Oh, C., Price, J., Brindley, M. A., Widrlechner, M. P., Luping, Q., McCoy, J-A., Murphy, P., Hauck, C. and Maury, W. 2011. Inhibition of HIV-1 Infection by Aqueous Extracts of Prunella vulgaris L. Virology Journal 8: 188.

Plants of the World Online (POWO). 2022. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/ Accessed March 17, 2022.

Tropicos.org. 2022. Missouri Botanical Garden. https://tropicos.org Accessed March 17, 2022.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). 2022. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx Accessed Accessed February 8, 2022.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). 2022. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC USA. http://plants.usda.gov Accessed December 29, 2022.

Young-Mathews A, 2012. Plant fact sheet for lance selfheal (Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata). Oregon, USA: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Corvallis Plant Materials Center. http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_prvul2.pdf



Jennifer Neudorf, Angela Salzl, Ruojing Wang, Karen Castro, Katrina Entwistle
Canadian Food Inspection Agency