Plant families: Lamiaceae

Lamiaceae-Mint Family

Key Words: Square stalks and opposite leaves, often aromatic.

Members of this family include:

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Motherwort
  • Horehound
  • Catnip
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
Photo by Pixabay on
Lamiaceae Medicinal Actions:

Medicinal constituents include the strong aromatic essential oil, tannins, saponins and organic acids. The oil is obtained by steam distillation. In aromatherapy, the oil is used for its soothing effects. The plant has sedative, diuretic, tonic, antispasmodic and antiseptic properties.
Illustration courtesy of Botany In A Day -Thomas J. Elpel

Once you are familiar with the family characteristics, it is much easier to identify a plant within that family. You will recognise its basic shape and often know its medicinal properties.

Identifying a completely unfamiliar plant:

A few years ago, when we lived in Hluboka, a plant which I had never seen before started to grow in my yard.

My husband used to mow a smiley into our lawn. This is where the new purple-flowered plant started to grow.

Starting with flower shape, I began the process of identifying its family, genus and species.

This plant has:

  • united petals
  • 4 stamen of two lengths
  • a square stem
  • opposite leaves
  • strong aroma

Given these characteristics, I can safely put this plant in the Lamiaceae family.

Using these resources, I am easily able to identify its genus and species:

Self Heal 
Prunella vulgaris 

Self-heal is used for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diarrhea, colic, and stomach upset and irritation (gastroenteritis). It is also used for mouth and throat ulcers, sore throat, and internal bleeding.

Botanical illustrations are really helpful

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