T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Stachys
Species: S. sylvatica
Binomial name: Stachys sylvatica
Common names: Hedge stachys, Hedge Woundwort, Dead nettle, Hedge nettle

Stachys sylvatica is a member of the Labiatae or Dead-nettle family. It occurs on shaded moist or damp but not wet places that have weakly acid to weakly basic soils. It has been described as a nitrate indicator on base-rich soils. It depends on seedlings established close to the parent plant for maintaining population density. Stolons are probably effective in extending the area of clones.
It is a perennial evergreen rhizomatous soft-wooded perennial herb with a green creeping rhizome with strong far-creeping stolons. This grassland herb grow up to 60 cm tall. It has a distinctive unpleasant smell when crushed.
The leaves have serrated edges, with long stalks which are about a quarter of the total length, and oppose each other on the hairy, square stem. They are an elongated heart-shape, 5 to 15 cm long and 2 to 5 cm wide with a tapered end.
The flowers (6-8 mm) are in long tapering spikes, pink to purple-crimson with white speckles on the lower lip and appear early summer to late autumn. The flowers are arranged in whorls around the top of the stems, each whorl having leaf like bracts beneath it separated from each other by a small gap on the stem. It forms a
terminal spike. There are rarely more than six individual flowers in each whorl. The individual flowers have an entire bottom lip, spotted quaintly with white dots or marks over the dull purple background colour, the sides are folded. The upper lip is convexed and slightly sticky to touch. The four stamens beneath the protective hood,formed by the top of the flower, have two or three longer than the others.
The flowers are pollinated by bees and long tongued flies which are guided to the flower by means of a channel of minute white hairs which lead the insect under the hood where they get dusted by pollen. This in turn gets transferred to other flowers as the insects go about their daily business.
When the flower has faded and the seeds are formed in the shape of four nutlets the calyx teeth become rigid. As the nutlets ripen the teeth contract and the nutlets are dispersed.
In the early days of herbal medicine whole works were devoted to the woundworts. They were the mainstay of herbal medicine. The whole herb is styptic and its main use was to stem the flow of blood. A leaf was bound to a cut to control bleeding. The plant also yields a yellow dye. The stem produces a strong fibre which was utilised in days gone by. It was used in traditional herbal medicine to treat kidney problems.

 


   

 

Upper surface of leaf

Underneath of leaf


The square hairy stalk