Selfheal plants were used as a herbal medicine to cure most ailments in medieval times. This explains the alternative names of allheal or heal-all. All plant parts may be ingested for medical purposes or used externally as a topical treatment.
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) is a small perennial that belongs to the mint or Lamiaceae family. It creeps along the ground, spreading when the creeping stems root into the soil.
The leaves are lance-shaped with serrated edges. They are green, and some plants have leaves with reddish tips. The veins and midrib are clearly identifiable on the leaves.
Selheal plants produce small purple and white lobed flowers that are most prolific in summer.
Selfheal grows indigenously in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. It is ideally suited to temperate climates where it grows on disturbed soil, woodland edges, and grasslands. In some places, selfheal has become invasive, and gardeners prefer to replace it with a similar-looking plant.
These are some plants that look like selfheal:
- Jurisic sage
- Salvia candelabrum
- Mexican oregano
- Dead nettles
1. Jurisic Sage
Jurisic sage (Salvia jurisicii) is from the Lamiaceae family, like selfheal. These plants differ from selfheal as they grow to about twelve inches tall.
The leaves are olive green and much thinner than those of selfheal. The leaves have hairs that can make the plant look fuzzy. The white, lilac, or violet flowers are similar to selfheal and grow in whorls. The flowers occur among the hairs producing a fluffy appearance.
2. Salvia Candelabrum
Salvia candelabrum is another sage species that looks similar to selfheal. It grows taller than selfheal – to about forty inches. It has lance-shaped green leaves similar to selfheal.
Another likeness between the two plants is that salvia candelabrum produces a purple and white lobed flower. Salvia grows in similar climates to selfheal, making it a good choice as an alternative plant.
Related: 10 Plants That Look Like Salvia
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is also part of the mint (Lamiaceae) family. It has been used for centuries in its native regions of Europe and the Middle East. It grows from one to two feet tall, so it is a taller plant than selfheal.
The leaves are the same lance shape as selfheal leaves. They are dark green and three-quarters of an inch to one inch long. They produce small fragrant flowers, which are usually purple, pink, or blue. It is rare, but the flowers may also be white.
Hyssop grows in dry climates and poor chalky, or sandy soil. If the climate is unsuitable for selfheal, hyssop is a good alternative.
Ajuga is known by many other names, such as bugleweed, carpet bugle, and ground pine. It grows naturally in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Ajuga grows as a creeping ground cover similar to selfheal. It is a fast-spreading plant that must be controlled in a garden. The foliage may be green, purple, reddish, or copper hues. Ajuga produces small purple or blue flowers.
Ajuga grows well in shady areas but can also grow in the sun. It propagates itself by creating runners that root as they grow.
Calamints belong to the Calamintha species of the Lamiaceae plant family. They grow indigenously in North America, Europe, and Asia. They can be small at only four inches or relatively tall at twenty-four inches.
Calamints, like selfheal, spread quickly through rhizomes, although calamints grow to one and a half feet. They have upright stems with oval grey-green leaves. The leaf veins are prominent, making the leaf appear ridged.
Calamints produce a tubular flower with two lips reminiscent of selfheal. The flowers may be lilac, purple, red, cream, or white and attract bees and other insects. The flowers have a fresh minty tangerine fragrance.
The calamint leaves and stems have a strong camphor scent. This, together with the fragrant flowers, make calamints popular with gardeners that want a scented garden.
6. Mexican Oregano
Mexican oregano (Poliomintha longiflora) is not a true oregano species. It falls into the mint family and is sometimes called rosemary mint. It grows naturally in Mexico and Haiti and got its name as the leaves have a similar fragrance and taste to oregano.
Mexican oregano is a taller plant than selfheal, growing to three to four feet tall. The oval leaves are bright green or silver-grey with smooth edges. The plant may be evergreen in mild climates.
Mexican oregano produces small tubular flowers in summer and fall. The flowers are various shades of lavender or pink and attract hummingbirds to the garden.
Mexican oregano is a hardy plant that tolerates drought but thrives best in hot, humid climates. It can be situated in full sun or light shade. Mexican oregano can be grown in outdoor beds or pots. It makes an excellent topiary plant.
7. Dead Nettles
Dead nettles (Lamium maculatum) are another popular ground cover that resembles selfheal. They grow four to eight inches tall and can spread three to four feet.
Dead nettles have heart-shaped green leaves with toothed margins. The leaf veins form indentations on the upper surface of the leaves. The color of the foliage varies from green to silver or white variegated or spotted leaves.
They produce small lobed flowers, which may be lilac, purple, pink, magenta, or white. Dead nettles bloom for an extended period from mid-spring into fall.
Dead nettles are hardy plants that grow well in shady areas.
Stachys (Stachys sylvatica)is also sometimes called hedge nettles and belongs to the mint family like selfheal. It is sometimes confused with selfheal as it was an important medicinal herb in the Anglo-Saxon period in England.
Stachys can grow as a groundcover or from twenty inches to one hundred and twenty inches, depending on the growing conditions and the species. They have triangular-shaped leaves, and, like selfheal, the margins are serrated. The leaves are usually slightly hairy and green, although some may be slivery grey-green.
Stachys have spikes of small pink or purple tubular flowers. They bloom most prolifically in spring but produce flowers throughout the year. Stachys is a useful plant for those that wish to attract wildlife to their gardens.
If you live in a climate where frost is common, stachys is a good choice. It grows in full sun or shade and is also a showy container plant.
Ziziphora is a genus of plants in the Lamiaceae or mint family. They grow in dry arid regions in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Europe. It is an important medicinal plant and is much prized for the essential oils it yields.
Ziziphoras are low-growing shrubs that reach half a foot in height. Their simple, broad, aromatic leaves are usually bright to dark green. They produce small clusters of white, purple, or mauve flowers.
Ziziphora can be planted in full sun or semi-shade. Their similarity to selfheal makes them a good alternative for gardens in hot, dry climates.
Warnockia is a genus of plants in the mint family. There is only one species, the prairie brazosmint or Warnockia scutellarioides. It grows indigenously in the south-central United States and northern regions of Mexico.
Warnockia grows as an annual herb to six to twelve inches, making it approximately the same size as selfheal. It grows as a ground cover or may climb fences, trellises, or other plants.
Warnockia produces pink or purple blossoms similar to selfheal. It blooms in late spring and summer and is usually grown as an annual. Warnockia reseeds itself every year, and new colonies can be seen emerging in early spring. Warnockia flowers attract insects, especially butterflies.