|Betony, Lambs' Ears|
|Type:||Annuals, perennials, and shrubs|
|Weediness:||Some are aggressive spreaders|
|Toxicity and edibility:||Leaves and flowers are edible.|
Stachys is a genus of about 300 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants and shrubs in the family Lamiaceae. The distribution of the genus covers Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and North America. Common names include Heal-all, self-heal, woundwort, betony, lamb's ears, and hedgenettle.
Originating in Europe, stachys can be found growing in wastelands, grasslands and woodland edges. All-heal thrives in any damp soil in full sun or in light shade. Plants are apt to become troublesome weeds in turf that is at all damp. Sow seed in very early spring in a flat outdoors, or give a short cold and moist conditioning treatment before sowing in a warm place. Mostly from June to August. Gather whole plant when flowers bloom, dry for later herb use. Leaves and small flowers are edible.
The stems vary from 50-300 cm tall, with simple, opposite triangular leaves 1-14 cm long with serrated margins; in most species the leaves are softly hairy. The stems are creeping, self-rooting, tough, square, reddish, and branching at leaf axis. The leaves are lance shaped, serrated and reddish at tip, about an inch long and 1/2 inch broad, grow on short stalks in opposite pairs down the square stem. The flowers grow from a clublike, somewhat square, whirled cluster, immediately below this club are a pair of stalkless leaves standing out on either side like a collar. The flowers are 1.2 cm long, two lipped and tubular, clustered in the axils of the leaves on the upper part of the stem, the corolla 5-lobed with the top lobe forming a 'hood', varying from white to pink, purple, red or pale yellow; the bottom lip is often white, three lobed, with the middle lobe being larger and fringed upwardly. Flowers bloom at different times depending on climate and other conditions.
Well drained soils are required, soils of low fertility are often better than rich soils. Full sun to light shade.
Used as a medicine for centuries on just about every continent in the world, and for just about every ailment known to man, Heal-All is something of a panacea, it does have some medicinal uses that are constant. The plants most useful constituents are Betulinic-acid, D-Camphor, Delphinidin, Hyperoside, Manganese, Oleanolic-acid, Rosmarinic-acid, Rutin, Ursolic-acid, and Tannins. The whole plant is medicinal as alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. A cold water infusion of the freshly chopped or dried and powdered leaves is a very tasty and refreshing beverage, weak infusion of the plant is an excellent medicinal eye wash for sties and pinkeye. It is taken internally as a medicinal tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea, sore mouth and throat, internal bleeding, and weaknesses of the liver and heart. The name "woundwort" derives from its past use in herbalism for the treatment of wounds.
The Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis), is grown for its edible tuber.
Woolly Betony (Stachys byzantina) is a popular decorative garden plant.
Cut back in early spring.
Division or cuttings.
For herbal use, gather whole plant when flowers bloom, and dry for later use. Leaves and small flowers are edible.
Pests and diseases
Stachys species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the w:Coleophora case-bearers C. auricella (recorded on S. officinalis), C. lineolea and C. wockeella (feeds exclusively on S. officinalis).
- "Lippert, W. & Podlech, D. 'WIldflowers of Britain & Europe'. Collins Nature Guides 1994.
- Britton, Nathaniel Lord; Addison Brown (1913). An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada, Volume 3 (second edition ed.). Dover Publications, inc.. pp. 123-128.
- Ann Fowler Rhoads and Timothy A. Block (2000). The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. Anna Anisko, illustrator. Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 484-485.
- P. D. Strausbaugh and Earl L. Core (1977). Flora of West Virginia (Second ed.). Seneca Books, Grantsville, W. Virginia. pp. 808-810.
- Christopher Brickell and Judith D. Zuk (1997). The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. DK Publishing. pp. 976-977.
- Staff of the L. H. Bailey Hortorium (1976). Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press. pp. 1067-1068.