Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Bugle-weed - Ajuga reptans

Family: Lamiaceae [Duke2]


"Ajuga reptans is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought." [PFAF]

"General: Perennial herb from short rhizome and long, leafy and rooting stolon; stems simple, 10-30 cm long/tall, somewhat hairy along 2 opposite sides, 4-angled." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Basal leaves in a rosette, egg-shaped or oblong, 4-7 cm long, entire to somewhat toothed, rounded at tip, becoming glabrous with age, often bronzy, gradually tapering to long stalk; stem leaves to many, opposite, shorter, more or less unstalked." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Flowers: Inflorescence of 5 to 7 flowers in axillary whorls, forming a leafy, terminal spike; upper bracts of inflorescence shorter than flowers, somewhat blue-tinted, egg-shaped, entire; corollas tubular, blue or rarely pink or white, the tube exserted, the upper lip very short, the lower lip conspicuous, 3-lobed; calyces bell-shaped, 5-6 mm long, the teeth shorter than tube." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Fruits: Nutlets, 4 clustered together, egg-shaped, net-veined." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Mesic to dry waste places in the lowland and montane zones; rare in the lower Fraser Valley; introduced from Europe." [IFBC-E-flora]

"The plant is said to be a narcotic hallucinogen that is known to have caused fatalities[274]." [PFAF]
"No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages." [PDR]

Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses
"Bugle has a long history of use as a wound herb and, although little used today, it is still considered very useful in arresting haemorrhages and is also used in the treatment of coughs and spitting of blood in incipient consumption[4, 254, 268]." [PFAF]

Whole Plant

"Aromatic, astringent and bitter[4, 7, 9]. The plant is usually applied externally[7]. It is also commonly used fresh in ointments and medicated oils[238]." [PFAF] "Unproven Uses: Internally, Bugle is used as an astringent for inflammation of the mouth and larynx. It is also used for gallbladder and stomach disorders. Externally, the plant is used for the treatment of wounds." [PDR]
Harvesting: "The whole herb, gathered in May and early June, when the leaves are at their best, and dried." "The roots have by some authorities been considered more astringent than the rest of the plant."[ModHerb-Onlne] "It is harvested as it comes into flower in late spring and dried for later use[4, 7]." [PFAF] "The medicinal parts are the aerial parts collected during the flowering season and dried" [PDR]
Effect: "In its action, it rather resembles digitalis, lowering the pulse and lessening its frequency, it allays irritation and cough, and equalizes the circulation and has been termed 'one of the mildest and best narcotics in the world.' It has also been considered good for the bad effects of excessive drinking."[ModHerb-Onlne]
Homeopathic: "A homeopathic remedy is made from the whole plant. [7] It is widely used in various preparations against throat irritations and especially in the treatment of mouth ulcers[7]." [PFAF]
Antihemorrhagic: "In herbal treatment, an infusion of this plant is still considered very useful in arresting haemorrhages and is employed in coughs and spitting of blood in incipient consumption and also in some biliary disorders, a wineglassful of the infusion - made from 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water - being given frequently."[ModHerb-Onlne]
Laxative: "Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) gives as his opinion that 'the leaves may be advantageously used in fluxes and disorders of that kind as they do not, like many other plants of the same value, produce costiveness, but rather operate as gentle laxatives.' He states that a decoction of the herb has been employed for quinsy."[ModHerb-Onlne]
"Mode of Administration: Bugle is used topically, in alcoholic extracts, as a water infusion and in teas."[PDR]

Historical Usage

"Culpepper had a great opinion of the value of the Bugle and says,
if the virtues of it make you fall in love with it (as they will if you be wise) keep a syrup of it to take inwardly, and an ointment and plaster of it to use outwardly, always by you. The decoction of the leaves and flowers in wine dissolveth the congealed blood in those that are bruised inwardly by a fall or otherwise and is very effectual for any inward wounds, thrusts or stabs in the body or bowels; and is an especial help in wound drinks and for those that are liver-grown, as they call it. It is wonderful in curing all ulcers and sores, gangrenes and fistulas, if the leaves, bruised and applied or their juice be used to wash and bathe the place and the same made into lotion and some honey and gum added, cureth the worse sores. Being also taken inwardly or outwardly applied, it helpeth those that have broken any bone or have any member out of joint. An ointment made with the leaves of Bugle, Scabious and Sanicle bruised and boiled in hog's lard until the herbs be dry and then strained into a pot for such occasions as shall require, it is so efficacious for all sorts of hurts in the body that none should be without it." [ModHerb-Onlne]

"There is one British record, from Sussex,135 of the ostensibly folk use of Ajuga reptans for wounds, a purpose for which it was anciently valued on account of its considerable astringency. Two Irish records add support to that. In the early nineteenth century, country people in Londonderry are said to have applied the juice to bruises as those were at the stage of turning black.136 And in Sligo—if, as seems likely, glas-na-coille was a mishearing of glasnair choille (the name in Irish)—it supplied till much later a cure for whitlows reckoned infallible.137" [MPFT]


  • Astringent
  • Cancer
  • Carminative
  • Deobstruent
  • Diuretic
  • Hemostat
  • Narcotic
  • Rheumatism
  • Stomachic
  • Styptic
  • Tonic
  • Vulnerary


"The plant contains digitalis-like substances (these are commonly found in Digitalis species and are used in treating heart complaints) and is thought to possess heart tonic properties[268]." [PFAF]

Insecticide: "The effects of crude methanolic extracts of Ajuga remota and A. reptans (Labiatae) were tested in the laboratory against the developing stages of Aedes aegypti, A. togoi and Culex quinquefasciatus. The extracts caused severe inhibition of development when young fourth instar larvae were exposed until adult emergence. The rate of mortality was correlated with extract's concentrations and the duration of exposure. The different mosquito species showed almost the same sensitivity to an extract of A. remota. Extracts of A. reptans (LC(90)-values from 98 to 128 ppm when tested against A. togoi) were more efficient than those of A. remota (LC(90)-values from 384 to 700 ppm). Among the different plant parts, effectiveness of the derived extracts was roots over leaves over shoots over flowers. Treatment of developing stages caused a reduced quality of the emerged female adults. The results point out that the ecdysteroid regulation of the mosquitoes is influenced by the effective compounds of the extracts"[Marcard et al.,1986]

Chemical/Part/Loppm/Hippm/Reference [Duke2]
  • AJUGOL Plant JSG
  • TANNIN Plant 150000 CRC HHB

BUGLE (Ajuga reptans L.) +
"Activities (Bugle) — Antipyretic (f; EFS); Astringent (1; PHR); Carminative (f; CRC; EFS); Deobstruent (f; CRC); Diuretic (f; CRC); Hemostat (f; CRC; EFS); Narcotic (f; CRC); Stomachic (f; CRC; EFS); Tonic (f; EFS); Vulnerary (f; CRC)."
Select Indications (Bugle) — Bleeding (f; CRC; EFS; MPG); Cancer (f; CRC; JLH); Cancer, uterus (f; JLH); Fever(f; CRC; EFS); Gas (f; CRC; EFS); Induration (f; CRC; JLH); Tumor (f; JLH); Ulcer (f; CRC); Uterosis (f; CRC; JLH);
"Dosages (Bugle) — Not given (PHR). 60 g herb boiled in 1 liter water for biliary disorders (CRC)." [HMH Duke]

"Prefers a humus-rich, moisture retentive soil and partial shade[28, 31, 200]. Does well in marshy soil and in the spring meadow[24]. Grows well in dry shade[187, 190] and is fairly drought tolerant once established, though it shows distress in severe drought[190]. Plants do not always ripen their seeds in Britain, they spread freely by runners, however, and soon form an extensive patch in suitable conditions[4]. A number of forms have been selected for their ornamental value, several of them are variegated and these are used especially as ground cover plants for dry shade[187]. A purple-leafed form, 'Atropurpurea' does well in full sun so long as the soil is not dry[208]. A good bee and butterfly plant[24]."[PFAF]

"Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 10°c[133], though it can be erratic[238]. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer[K]. Division of runners at almost any time of year. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.
" [PFAF]

Uses of Other Ajuga Sp.


  1. Ahmed et al.,2013 - Ahmed, Ejaz, et al. "Ethnobotanical appraisal and medicinal use of plants in Patriata, New Murree, evidence from Pakistan." Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 9.1 (2013): 13.
  2. Anderson,1986 - Anderson, Edward F. "Ethnobotany of hill tribes of northern Thailand. I. Medicinal plants of Akha." Economic Botany 40.1 (1986): 38-53.
  3. Duke - Accessed Aug 7, 2019
  4. Duke2 -, Accessed Aug 7, 2019
  5. Marcard et al.,1986 - Marcard, M., C. P. W. Zebitz, and H. Schmutterer. "The effect of crude methanolic extracts of Ajuga spp. on postembryonic development of different mosquito species." Zeitschrift fuer Angewandte Entomologie (Germany, FR) (1986).
  6. [ModHerb-Onlne] Bugle, Common,, A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve,, Accessed Dec 7, 2013
  7. [PFAF] Ajuga reptans,, Accessed March 27, 2015

Page last modified on Saturday, June 12, 2021 3:06 AM