Bugle is a common herb that often grows in large clumps (4). The flowers are deep purplish blue, rarely pink or white (2), and are arranged on tapering flower stalks. The dark leaves have an unusual colouration, with a purplish-brown or violet sheen on a dark green ground colour (4). An alternative name for this plant, ‘thunder and lightning’ is thought to refer to the contrast between the shiny highlights and deep background colour of the leaves (5). The common name ‘bugle’ does not refer to the musical instrument, but is thought to derive from ‘bugula’, s name used by apothecaries (5), which may in turn be a corruption of the generic Latin name ‘Ajuga' (6).
Bugle is a perennial herb that can spread by seed or, more typically, by means of creeping stems known as ‘stolons’ or ‘runners’ (3). It flowers from late April to early July (6). The flowers are pollinated by bees, although self-fertilisation is also possible (2).
Bugle was, in the past, a well-known medicinal herb. It was used mainly to treat wounds, and was once widely planted in gardens to provide a ready supply (5).
This plant is widespread throughout Britain, up to altitudes of 760 meters (3). Elsewhere it is found throughout much of Europe, the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan), south west Asia, Algeria and Tunisia (2).
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