Perennial herb from an enlarged stem-base or short rhizome, fibrous-rooted; stems solitary or clustered, erect to spreading or reclining, 10-50 cm long, short-hairy to glabrous, 4-angled.
All stem leaves or some basal; opposite, lanceolate or elliptic to broadly egg-shaped, 2-7 cm long, 0.7-4 cm wide, entire or obscurely toothed, glabrous or lightly hairy; stalks 5-30 mm long; lower leaves often broader with more rounded base than upper.
Inflorescence of many flowers in dense terminal spikes, 2-5 cm long, about 1.5-2 cm wide, usually subtended by upper leaves; bracts kidney- to egg-shaped, about 1 cm long, reddish, tips pointed, margins hairy; corollas tubular, blue-violet or occasionally pink or white, 10-15 mm long in bisexual flowers, 8-11 mm long in pistillate flowers, fine-hairy inside, 2-lipped, the upper lip hood-like and entire, the lower lip 3-lobed with broad middle lobe; calyces dark green to purplish, 7-10 mm long, 2-lipped, lips longer than tube, the upper lip squared-off and with 3 short awns, the lower lip with 2 lanceolate spine-tipped teeth.
Nutlets, 4 clustered together, egg-shaped, smooth.
Two subspecies occur in BC:
1. Principal stem leaves egg-shaped to oblong (averaging half as broad as long), broadly wedge-shaped or rounded at base.................... ssp. vulgaris
1. Principal stem leaves lanceolate to egg-shaped (averaging one-third as broad as long), narrowly wedge- shaped to abruptly pointed at base.................. ssp. lanceolata (Bart.) Hult.
Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Prunella caroliniana Mill.
Prunella vulgaris var. atropurpurea Fernald
Prunella vulgaris var. calvescens Fernald
Prunella vulgaris var. hispida Benth.
Prunella vulgaris var. minor Sm.
Prunella vulgaris var. nana Clute
Prunella vulgaris var. parviflora (Poir.) DC.
Prunella vulgaris var. rouleauiana Victorin
Prunella vulgaris var. vulgaris