Purple betony (Stachys officinalis), Betony, Wood betony, Common hedgenettle, Bishop’s-wort
Main Facts about Purple betony
Not to be confused with true Wood Betony. Narrow leaves at base of tall 2 feet stick-like stems with cluster of purple flowers on top. Its leaves are stalked on upright stems, narrowly oval, with a heart-shaped base, with a somewhat wrinkled texture and toothed margins. The first reference occurs in a work by the Roman physician Antonius Musa, who claimed it as effective against sorcery. It was planted in churchyards against ghosts. During the middle ages is was considered to be the golden gem amongst herbs. Today it is much less used and then usually in combination with other herbs.
Using Purple betonyAn old remedy for arthritis and gout. Astringent. Slightly bitter (good for digestion) Flowers, leaves and stem used to make tea for anxiety, migraines, gallstones, heartburn, high blood pressure, headache, neuralgia, and to prevent sweating. Strong antioxidant, for use as a general tonic. It can also be used as an ointment for skin ulcers, cuts, sores, and insect bites.
Caution!Wood betony is a uterine stimulant and should not be used during pregnancy. Excessive doses of the herb also can cause vomiting.
Cooking with Purple betonyTea: 1 teaspoon dried betony leaves cover with 1 cup of boiling water, steep for about 5 minutes. It tastes much like black tea but contains no caffeine. For sore throats and gum inflammations, gargle with the cool tea. Poultice: boil the chopped fresh or dried leaves in a small amount of water for 2 to 5 minutes; strain off the excess liquid, then apply the warm herb to the skin, using a cloth to hold it in place.
How to grow Purple betonyWood betony is a wonderful shade plant. Betony grows easily from seed, root divisions or cuttings. Soil needs to be well drained cannot tolerate waterlogged soil. Prefers a little light rather than total dense shade but is great under trees and even in woodlands provided that the canopy is not fully dense. Once established, it requires little care, other than division every three to four years when the crowns begin to decline. For best quality, collect the aerial parts (leaves, stems and buds) just before the plant flowers.