Blue Ajuga is one of the loveliest ground covers in my garden. Not only does it offer brilliant blue (slightly violet,deep blue) spikes of many florets
that cluster densely about six or seven inches in height, but in the Spring and Fall it is a short, glossy mat of glabrous burgundy leaves. The leaves are rounded, very distinct, nearly an inch wide when mature, and they pile upon each other
much like seaweed. I think of it as a gift of the ocean, but it is given to rock gardens and to sprawling down hills in profusion.
Some people would call it invasive, but it has very short roots and it is easily trimmed by lightly cultivating in the Spring and Fall.
My Ajuga show is nearly over now (the end of May) but we have enjoyed some mighty hot weather. Sometimes the display of flowers lasts a whole month.
I plant them with a stand of grape hyacynth, which is very royal blue. Grape Hyacynth is one of the earliest blooming Spring bulbs, and it is very showy. So when the clusters of royal blue are over with, or nearly, inevitably, the bold spikes of Ajuga take over, and like clockwork, so that one side of my front flowerbed is ablaze with deep blue, offsetting the rich red of the tulips and the whiteness of the daffodils that bloom below these on the slope of my garden.
When I started researching Ajuga, I was quite unaware that there were over fifty variens, the most common of which is called Blue Bugleweed (Ajuga genevenvis, as shown in the garden photo up top of this page) or Blue Ajuga.
You can see some of the varieties, and view a list of the varieties on thepage linked immediately below:
Many varieties of Bugleweed are listed on The Free Dictionary
I became very interested in looking up virtues of its country cousin (Ajuga reptans) but I discovered that the complex chemistry used to explore some its medicinal characteristics seemed far too scientific for my capabilities, to be able to note the number of constituents that Ajuga actually has. If you look at the list of ingredients in Mint (LINK TO:) Peppermint Properties, you will be amazed to see the number of constituents in just Peppermint.
Blue Ajuga and the other ajugas are relatives of the Mint family (N.O. Labiatae).
I believe, when scientists have finished exploring the qualities of Ajuga growth in northern climes, and subsequently, how climactic conditions have distinguished its' chemical properties, that we will someday see a long, long, list of acetyls and cyanids, along with volatile or aromatic oils for Ajuga, too.
Yay! It is another plant that I took for granted as a garden beauty, that has turned into a health genius!! Who is growing whom, Blue Ajuga? I ask you?
Will the Real Bugleweed Please Stand Up?
Collecting some of these herbals can be confusing,and even the common name for these varieties, which is Bugleweed, is also applied to a similar plant, very often called "Creeping Charlie".
I have called Creeping Charlie Bugleweed very often myself, and it does have florets ,which are most similar to those of Ajuga, except they are slightly more fragile and a lighter bluish-mauve.(You may see the difference as you glance at the image to the left of this text).
"The scientific name for Creeping Charlie is Glechoma hederacea, also Nepeta glechoma.
Creeping charlie belongs to the Lamiaceae (or Labiatae) family, also known as the mint family, so of the Mint family perhaps it is also a "Bugleweed". It tolerates sun, but prefers to grow in shade. "
REF: Creeping Charlie Facts
Leaves of "Creeping Charlie "were steeped in the hot liquor by the early Anglo- Saxons, and used to clarify beer, before hops were introduced.
You probably know that the plant is very invasive, but it was appreciated as an alternative ground cover when I was in my pre-teens. It stays green while your lawn bleaches and ripens.
Although Blue Ajuga is considered to be a northern indigenous species, world round, there are herbal remedies from Australia, Kenya or Australia that employ various types of the plant.
I was delighted to find that Wikipedia has a page of linked images, which show all of the over fifty varieties of Ajuga. There is such passion for this herb that Wikipedia is developing its information by inviting contributors of Ajuga info through a Facebook page
REF: "Ajuga, also known as Bugleweed, Ground pine or Carpet bugle, is a genus of about 40–50 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the mint family Lamiaceae, with most species native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, but also two species in southeastern Australia. They grow to 5–50 cm tall, with opposite leaves."
LINK TO: Facebooks' Wikipedia Ajuga Page
Bai Mao Xia Ku Cao (Ajuga decumbens)
To be found in places like Australia and Japan, remedies and uses of Ajuga decumbens seem to have developed along the same lines as from its Western counterpart.
Differing from the western Blue Ajuga, the decumbens leaves are serrated and more ovoid. It has some lower rounded leaves as well. Its florets are slightly more violet in tone and less densely clustered.
The whole Ajuga decumbens plant promotes tissue regeneration.
A leaf decoction is used for bladder ailments, diarrhea, eye trouble and fever.
Juice can be used for bugbites, burns, cuts, and tumors.
Fresh leaves are pounded with boiled rice and used as a poultice onto carcinoma.
Shoots or Stems: a decoction of the shoots or stems is washed onto neuralgic and rheumatic parts.
Seed: A hot decoction is used for diarrhea or stomach ache.
The plant is used for abscesses, boils, bronchitis, burns, cancer, cold, colic, epistaxis, fever, fungoid diseases, hemorrhage, hypertension, inflammation, pneumonia, snakebite, sore throat and tonsillitis.
"There are three Bugles in the British flora - the common creeping form (Ajuga reptans), the erect Bugle (A. pyramidalis), a rare Highland species, and the Yellow Bugle or Ground Pine (A. Chamaepitys), which likewise has its reputation as a curative herb."
Ajuga is bitter, astringent and aromatic.
The roots have been considered more astringent than the rest of the plant.
It has also been considered good for the bad effects of excessive drinking. Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) gives as his opinion that '...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 on the Continent.
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; ... 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.'
Bugle, Common: Blue bugle, Bugleherb, Bugleweed, Carpetweed, or Common bugle,
Botanical: Ajuga reptans (LINN.)
Ajuga reptans looks like blue Ajuga but has less florets. Its floret display more closely resembles Creeping Charlie, being more loosely arranged upon the stem, but is a darkish sapphire blue. Bugle is also known as "carpenter's herb" due to its supposed ability to stem bleeding.
images | Wikipedia
Because of its diuretic properties, bugle weed is useful in removing excess fluid from the body and thus improving circulation. It has been shown to inhibit the body's metabolism of iodine, and is helpful for this reason in treating hyperthyroidism. Poultices containing bugle weed leaves in combination with other herbs have been found to speed the healing of bruised areas. This variety is a valued cough suppressant. In old herbal remedy books such as Thayer's Fluid and Solid Extracts, and even in the more recent A Modern Herbal, bugle weed is considered useful even for healing tuberculosis and to stop bleeding from the lungs.
Because of its diuretic properties, bugle weed is useful in removing excess fluid from the body and thus improving circulation. It has been shown to inhibit the body's metabolism of iodine, and is helpful for this reason in treating hyperthyroidism. Bugle weed is useful in weaning babies as it helps (when Mother takes it) to suppress the production of breast milk.
"Bugle weed should not be used internally if a person has a thyroid condition unless they have consulted a physician or health care practitioner. Because of bugle weed's influence on thyroid function and its ability to reduce secretions (including breast milk), it should be used only for short periods and prescribed by a trained practitioner.
In addition, plants in the mint family, which includes bugle weed, are high in methyl salicylate. This compound causes allergies in some people."
Side effects and interactions
"The Complete German Commission E Monographs includes reports of uncommon cases of long-term high-dosage therapy with bugle weed preparations resulting in enlargement of the thyroid gland. When this herb is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, its sudden stoppage can result in an increase in the symptoms. Bugle weed preparations may interfere with the use of radioactive isotopes used in some diagnostic procedures."
Encyclopaedia of Alternative Medicine | Contra-Indications
Click the Botanical.com link for much more information:
This highly professional abstract shows work that has been done in Nairobi, Kenya (Africa). The pharmacological examination of the effectiveness of Ajuga herb used for Malaria.
TITLE: Antimalarial activity of Ajuga remota Benth (Labiatae) and Caesalpinia volkensii Harms (Caesalpiniaceae): in vitro confirmation of ethnopharmacological use
"The compounds 20-hydroxyecdysone-22-acetate and viticosterone E (20-hydroxyecdysone-25-acetate) are observed for the first time in Ajuga reptans L. growing at the northern limit of its range in a middle taiga subzone of European northeastern Russia.
Ecdysteroids present in Ajuga have provided tonic and stimulant in traditional folk use."
L. I. Alekseeva1 , V. V. Volodin1, V. G. Luksha1 and R. Lafont2
(1) Institute of Biology, Komi Scientific Center, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Syktyvkar
(2) Higher Normal School, Paris
Received: 30 July 1999
"Differences in climate evoke varying levels of ecdysteroid acetates;at northern limit contains polypopin B,20 hydroxyecdysone etc (abstract on content)"
A new family of phytoecdysteroids isolated from aerial part of Ajuga reptans var. atropurpurea
Ajuga reptans var. atropurpurea; new isolate
Complicated studies show methanolic extracts from dried hairy root only
Ionone, Iridoid and Phenylethanoid Glycosides from Ajuga salicifolia