Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bugle

Ajuga australis
Family: LAMIACEAE
Here’s a little herb that’s related to lavender and salvia. Native ajuga is often grown in gardens, but we rarely see the local variety being used, which is a pity as this smaller, hairier bugle is much more drought hardy than plants brought in from elsewhere. This plant is one of many which have popped up of their own accord, in a dry and sunny spot in my own garden. We do see it around the district on hills and slopes.
It is a spreading groundcover which flowers over a long period in spring and summer, and otherwise just looks quietly ornamental with its red-backed leaves. It is typically a plant of grasslands, where it tends to scatter about, but it can make a spreading mat in good garden soil. It needs no watering, but will make a more dense mat if it’s given some occasionally, and if it’s grown in shade, where it’s leaves are a little larger.
The shape of its flowers, with their exaggerated bottom lips, tells us that the plant is pollinated by insects, which use the lips as landing stages. It is rich in both nectar and pollen and is a favourite with native bees.
It grows in full sun or part shade.

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