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Prunella vulgaris, commonly called Heal-All or Self-Heal is a perennial herb in the mint family. It prefers a rich, damp, well draining soil but can be found in nature in almost any meadow or field, along ditches and low areas. The flowering top is mostly used in herbal preparations but the whole plant can be used.
It will flower and set seed the first year from seed. Bloom time will vary in different areas. Here in Arkansas, it begins blooming in May and is best harvested before the surrounding vegetation gets too tall to see these beautiful little flowers. The spreading habit and summer brush-hogging of fields causes scattering of seed, resulting in small to sometimes large patches here and there. I keep hoping to walk upon a whole field of it!
Flower heads along with the top set of leaves were harvested by the two to three gallon bucket and placed in my indoor drying racks after allowing to sit outside in the shade for a day to allow most bugs to escape. A large bowl, tray or trash bag lined box placed under the rack will catch most that didn’t get away earlier.
The largest stainless steel bowl I’ve been able to find catches the tiny dried flowers and bugs falling through the mesh. A kitchen sieve is used to sift the bugs from the flowers.
To harvest mature seeds from the flowers, we need to leave some on the plants until they die and turn brown.
These dead and dry flower heads were placed into the Vita-Mix and blended on 4.5 speed until they were completely shredded. I’ve de-seeded other flowers by this method in the past and it won’t hurt the seeds. The large shreds can be removed from the top after shaking in a bowl to settle seeds to the bottom and added to the Super Smoothie tea base. The fine shreds with seeds are then taken outside to winnow out in the wind between two large bowls.
Ended up with 23g of clean seed and some will probably sprout up in the yard next spring! WildflowersUK.com on Google says we have approximately 1,350 seeds per gram X 23 = 31,050 seeds. That much seed out of probably a half-gallon of dried flowers! The same recommends the sowing rate to be 1 gram per square meter.
Before I knew exactly what I was looking for, not knowing when they bloomed in my area or exactly what type of terrain, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever find any. Walked into the field behind our home one day and there it was smiling up at me!
Harvested about twenty or so gallons fresh, indoor air dried. Stored in a big, wide mouth glass fermenter jar, packed full in about two weeks total. Save the boxes your big jars come in to store herbs or wines you make in the dark. At between $40-$50 per pound at the popular herb supply shops online, it was worth the effort. To learn more about Self-Heal, there are plenty of interesting studies. Google “P vulgaris Pubmed”.
If you’re unable to find any, click the Starwest Botanicals Banner below and type Prunella vulgaris into the search bar. It’s very popular and may be temporarily out-of-stock.
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