Introduction of Xia Ku Cao:Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike or Spica Prunellae.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its herbal classic book defined botanical source 2 plant species, ①.Prunella vulgaris L., ②.Prunella asiatica Nakai., and other 2 ornamental species, ③.Prunella grandiflora., ④.Prunella hispida Benth., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these four plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these four plant species, the features of the herb Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Spica Prunellae(Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike).

Prunella vulgaris L:flowers Pin Yin Name: Xià Kū Cǎo.
 English Name: Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike.
 Latin Name: Spica Prunellae.
 Property and flavor: cold, pungent, bitter.

 Brief introduction: The herb Spica Prunellae is the dried fruit-spike of Prunella vulgaris L.(family Labiatae), used (1).to clear liver fire for the treatment of acute conjunctivitis, headache and dizziness, and (2).to dissipate nodulation for treating acute mastitis, mumps, scrofula and goiter. The herb is commonly known as Spica Prunellae, Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike, Xià Kū Cǎo.

 Botanical source: The herb Spica Prunellae(Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike) is the dried fruit-spike of Prunella vulgaris L., it is a plant of the Prunella genus, the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae, mint family) of the Lamiales order.

 Herbal classic book defined the herb Common Selfheal Fruit-Spike(Xia Ku Cao) as the fruit spike of the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae, mint family) plant species (1). Prunella vulgaris L.or (2). Prunella asiatica Nakai. These 2 commonly used species and other 2 ornamental species(Prunella grandiflora., and Prunella hispida Benth.) are introduced:

(1).Prunella vulgaris L.

 Prunella vulgaris L. Botanical description: The Prunella vulgaris L., is a plant of the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae, mint family) and Prunella genus, it is commonly known as "Common Selfheal", or "Xia Ku Cao", perennial herb, stem is 15~30 cm high. Rhizome creeping, rooted at nodes. Stems ascending, lower evolved, many-branched from the base, obtusely quadrangular, with shallow grooves, purplish red, sparsely coarsely hairy or nearly glabrous. Leaves are opposite, with handle; petiole 0.7~2.5 cm, gradual upward from the lower short; leaf is ovate-oblong or circular, ranging in size, length 1.5~6 cm, width 0.7~2.5 cm, apex obtuse, base circle shaped, truncated to broadly cuneate, extending to petiole narrowly winged, margin undulate wavy teeth or almost entire margin. Umbrella inflorescence closely arranged into a top grow 2~4 cm pseudo-spikes, flowering short, then gradually elongation; bracts are kidney-shaped or horizontal oval, with pointed; calyx is bell-shaped, up to 10 mm, two lips, upper lip flat, apex truncated, there are 3 obvious short teeth, teeth wide, lower lip 2 crack, lobes are lanceolate, fruiting calyx due to the lower lip 2 teeth oblique stretch resistant closure; Corolla is purple, blue purple or purplish red, ca. 13 mm, slightly longer than calyx, twice as long as calyx long, lobes broadly lobed in lower lip, fimbriate minute lobes on margins; 4 stamens, fertility with anthers, anthers 2 rooms, room pole fork; ovarian glabrous. Nutlets are yellowish brown, oblong-ovate, 1.8 mm long, minutely grooved. Its flowering period is from April to June, the fruiting period is from June to August.

 Prunella vulgaris L. Ecological environment: The Prunella vulgaris L., grows in wasteland, gardens, roadsides, and slopes of grass, woodland edges, usually in basic and neutral soils. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in China. It spread throughout Asia, Europe, and North America, as well as most area of temperate climate.

 Physical Characteristics: Perennial herb, growing up 0.15 meter to 0.3 meter. Prunella is a genus of seven species of herbaceous plants in the family Lamiaceae, also known as self-heals or "allheal" for their use in herbal medicine. Most are native to Asia, Europe, and North Africa, but Prunella vulgaris (the Common Self-heal) is holarctic in distribution, occurring in North America as well, and is a common lawn weed.

 Prunella Vulgaris:bloosom Clavate, somewhat flattened, 1.5~8 cm long, 0.8~1.5 cm in diameter. Pale brown to brownish-red. The whole spike composed of up to ten or more whorls of persistent calyx and bracts, each whorl with two opposite bracts, fan-shaped, apex acuminate, striations of vein distinct, the outer surface is with white hairs. Each bract with three flowers, the corolla often fell off, persistent calyx bilabiate, with four small brown ovoid nutlets, with white convex at the pointed end. Texture light, slight odor, taste weak.

 Prunella Vulgaris:growing plants Fibrous-rooted perennial from a root crown or short rhizome. Stems are solitary or clustered, upright to creeping and ascending, 4-sided, 1~5 cm long, loosely softly long-hairy in lines or nearly throughout, or practically hairless. It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

 The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

 Self-heals are low-growing plants, and thrive in moist wasteland and grass, spreading rapidly to cover the ground. They are members of the mint family and have the square stem common to mints.

 Prunella Vulgaris:flowers cluster Field Marks: the distinguishing features of this species are the crowded spikes consisting of many flowers subtended by many overlapping bracts.

 Habitat: Low woods, along streams, around ponds and lakes, in roadside ditches, wet prairies, as well as in drier habitats.

 Stems: Spreading to erect, 4-sided, hairy, up to 2 feet (0.61 meters) tall. Height 4~12 inches (30.48 cm).

 Leaves: Stalked, softly long-hairy beneath, basal and opposite on stem or basal lacking, entire or obscurely toothed, with lanceolate or elliptic to broadly ovate blade, 2~9 cm long and 0.7~4 cm wide, the lower ones usually broader and with a more rounded base than the upper.

 Leaves: Opposite, simple, lanceolate to elliptic to narrowly ovate, rounded or pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering to the base, with or without teeth, usually hairy, up to 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) long, up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) broad; leaf stalks present.

 Prunella Vulgaris:dried herb Flowers: Several crowded into cylindrical spikes; each flower 1/2 to 1 inch (1.27~2.54 cm) long, subtended by a ciliate bract. Tubular, blue-violet or occasionally pink or white, 1~2 cm long, with a hooded upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip. Several flowers in short, dense spikes, 2~5 cm long, about 1.5~2 cm thick, the short-pointed bracts about 1 cm long, hairy on edges. Calyx 7~10 mm long, green or purple, with 3 shallow lobes on the upper lip and 2 deeper lobes on the lower lip, all lobes bristle-tipped.

 Flowering: May-September. Flower size: 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) long, in clusters 1~2 inches (2.54~5.08 cm) high. Flower color: purple.
 Sepals: 2-lipped, green or purple, hairy; the upper lip 3-toothed; the lower lip 2-lobed.
 Petals: 2-lipped, purple or white, up to 1 inch (2.54 cm) long; the upper lip unlobed; the lower lip 2-lobed.
 Stamens: 4, curved under the upper lip of the corolla.
 Pistils: Ovary superior, 4-parted; stigmas 2-cleft.
 Fruits: 4 nutlets, dark brown, ribbed, shiny, about 1/10 inch (2.54 mm) long.
 Notes: This plant is also known as heal-all.

 Growth characteristics: The Prunella vulgaris grows on wasteland, roadsides, and hillsides. It prefers a mild and humid climate, cold tolerance. The requirement of soil is not strict, so it is advisable to cultivate in sandy loam with good drainage, and not suitable to cultivate in sticky soil or low wetland.

 Characters of herbs: The dried fruit-spike is long cylindrical or pagoda-shaped, 2.5~6.5 cm in length and 1~1.5 cm in diameter, brown or lavender-brown. The persistent calyx has several to ten layers, arranged in a tile-like order, with 5-6 persistent calyxes with short stalks and 2 opposite bracts below each layer. Bracts are kidney-shaped, yellowish brown, with obvious longitudinal veins, wedge-shaped base, pointed tail-shaped apex, and white coarse hairs on the back. The persistent calyx is lip-shaped, the upper lip is broad, the apex is slightly 3-lobed, the lower lip is 2-lobed, and the lobes are triangular, with coarse hairs outside. The corolla and stamens have fallen off. There are 4 nutlets in persistent calyx, brown and shiny. The herb is light and the texture of the herb is crisp, it is slightly fragrant and light in taste. The herb of better grade is purple-brown with big spikes.

 Pharmacological actions: ①. Antihypertensive effect; ②. Antibacterial effect:According to the preliminary test in vitro, the decoction of spica prunellae has an inhibitory effect on Dysentery bacillus, typhoid bacillus, Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, streptococcus, and has a wide antibacterial spectrum; ③. Other functions: The decoction of spica prunellae can make the isolated uterus of rabbits appear tetanic contraction.

 Medicinal efficacy: Clear fire, clear liver, brighten eyes, dissipate stagnation, detoxify, reduce swelling. It is indicated for red eyes and sore eye pain, photophobia tears, headache and dizziness, tinnitus, scrofula, galls, mumps, breast carbuncle sore, breast cancer, goiter, lymph node tuberculosis, mammary gland hyperplasia, hypertension, facial paralysis, muscle and bone pain, carbuncle furuncle swelling and poison, tuberculosis, acute jaundice type infectious hepatitis, acute or chronic hepatitis, metrorrhagia, morbid leukorrhea.

 Administration of Spica Prunellae (Xià Kū Cǎo): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Spica Prunellae (Xià Kū Cǎo)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:9~15 grams;②.Internally:water decoction, 2~5 qian (about 6~15 grams), prepare to paste or prepare to pill,powder.Externally:wash with water decoction or mashed and apply stick;③.Internally:water decoction, 6~15 grams, big dosage could be 30 grams,prepare to paste or prepared to pill, powder.Externally:wash with water decoction or mashed and apply stick.

(2).Prunella asiatica Nakai.

 Prunella asiatica Nakai.flowering plants Botanical description: The Prunella asiatica Nakai., is a plant of the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae, mint family) and Prunella genus, it is also known as "Prunella vulgaris L. var. albiflora Koidz.", or "Mountain Spinach", or "Long Corolla Prunella", this species is very similar with the Prunella vulgaris L., the difference is that: the plant is relatively thick, corolla significantly larger than the calyx, about 2 times the length of the calyx, up to 18~21 mm.

 Prunella asiatica Nakai.flowering plants Ecological environment: The Prunella asiatica Nakai., grows in the sunny grass and wild sunny hillside. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in China.

 Characters of herbs: The herb is similar to spikes of prunella vulgaris, but the corolla is longer, 18~221 mm.

(3).Prunella grandiflora.

 Prunella grandiflora.:flowering plants Botanical description: The Prunella grandiflora., is a plant of the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae, mint family) and Prunella genus, it is also known as "large-flowered selfheal", or "big flower Prunella", perennial herb; roots creeping underground, there are fibrous roots in the festival. Stems are ascending, 15~60 cm tall, obtusely quadrangular, with pilose hairs. Leaves are ovate-oblong, 3.5~4.5 cm long, 2~2.5 cm wide, apex obtuse, base suborbicular, entire-edge, both surfaces sparsely hirsute, but often hairs below exfoliate, margin ciliate, petiole 2.5~4 cm, dorsoventral flat, bristle; a pair of leaves below inflorescence are oblong-lanceolate, sessile. Inflorescence densely composed of 4.5 cm long oblong inflorescence inflorescences below, not directly bearing leaves, each inflorescence bearing bracts; bracts are broad, heart-shaped, apex pointed and tip gradually turns small upward, membranous, veins radially, inner network at margin, pilose outside pilose, margin ciliate, inside glabrous; pedicel is short, ca. 1 mm, pilose. Calyx articulate 8 mm long, sparsely hirsute outside along veins, glabrous inside, tube length 3 mm, calyx eyelid 2-lipped, upper lip is nearly circular, ca. 5 mm long, apex is suborbicular, with 3 teeth, wide triangular teeth, spiny prickly, slightly longer lateral teeth, lower lip oblong, 6 mm long, 3 mm wide, 2-lobed, lobes middle of lip, lanceolate, spiked pointed.

 Prunella grandiflora.:flowering plants Corolla blue, 20~27 mm in length, 9 mm in length, curved, inner scale with angled ramekins near base, crown with two-lipped lips, upper lip oblong, 1.2 cm long and 0.7 cm wide, curving downward, the lower lip is broad, 3 crack, the larger in the lobes, the edge of a corrugated lobe, lateral lobes drooping. 4 stamens, long, all extending under the upper lip, filaments separated, flattened, glabrous, apically obtuse toothed, anther 2-compartment, ventricular extraditional. Style filiform, extending above stamens, apex 2-lobed equal, lobes subulate. Disk nearly flattened, wavy. Nutlets suborbicular, slightly knobby raised, apparently grooved at the margin and abaxially. It is flowering in September, fruiting after September. Corolla longer than 2.5 cm, purple deep purple pansy. Types white flower, red flower, magenta, rose-red and plumeria varieties.

 Ecological environment: The Prunella grandiflora grows in high humid environment, do not choose soil, cold-resistant. Geographical distribution: This species was native to Europe via the Balkans and West Asia to Central Asia. The plant was introduced and cultivated in Jiangsu province of China.

(4).Prunella hispida Benth.

 Prunella hispida Benth.:flowering plants Botanical description: The Prunella hispida Benth., is a plant of the Lamiaceae family (Labiatae, mint family) and Prunella genus, it is also known as "Prunella stolonifera H. Lév. et Giraudias, Prunella vulgaris L. var. hispida (Benth.) Benth., Brunella vulgaris L. var. hispida Benth.", or "Hard Hairy Prunella", "Rigid Hair Prunella", or "Ying Mao Xia Ku Cao", perennial, creeping root rhizome with abscission. Stems upright, base often volvicular, 15~30 cm tall, obtuse-four-sided, striate, densely blade abaxially pilose. Leaves are ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 1.5~3 cm long, 1~1.3 cm wide, apex pointed, base rounded, margin shallowly cordate to crenate-serrate, both surfaces are densely tuberous, sometimes less shedding, lateral veins 2~3 pairs, not obvious, petiole 0.5~1.5 cm, nearly flat, not obvious near the base of the narrow wings, bristles; the most directly on the stems and leaves in the inflorescence or a short distance, nearly sessile. Umbrella inflorescence usually 6 flowers, mostly dense top 2~3 cm wide and 2 cm spike, each inflorescence bearing its bracts under, bracts broad, nearly heart-shaped, 0.8~1 cm wide, apex acuminate with 2 mm abaxially, densely glabrous outside, glabrous inside, margin distinctly bristine, membranous, veins radial, emanating from base, apex netted, marginally prominent pedicel extremely short, less than 1 mm long, with bristles. Calyx purple, tubular-bell-shaped, about 1 cm in length, dorsoventral flat, 10 veins, significant, during which the reticular veins, veins conspicuous with section bristles, ciliate margin ciliate, calyx eaves two lips, upper lip flat, wide, nearly circular, 6 mm long, nearly 5 mm wide, apex subtruncate, with 3 spur teeth, teeth wide, side teeth small, lower lip is narrow, 3 mm wide, 2 deep cleft, lobes up to the middle of the lip, lanceolate, prickly pointed. Corolla is purplish to blue-purple, ca. 15~18 mm long, crown 10 mm long, nearly 1.5 mm wide at base, gradually swell anteriorly, slightly constricted throat, 4 mm wide, glabrous outside, near the base, there is a slight leaning scale hair ring, crown eyelid lip, upper lip oblong, ca. 5 mm, width 4 mm, keel, concave, apex emarginate, outside the ridge has a clear hard hairband, glabrous inside, lower lip wide, 5 mm long, 6 mm wide, 3-lobed, middle lobe larger, subrounded, margin with spatulate lobes, lateral lobes are oblong, small, drooping. 4 stamens, long in the front, are extended in the crown, filaments separated, flat, glabrous, before the filaments at the top was significantly longer than the anther-shaped lobes, the latter is not significant, the anther has 2 rooms. Style filiform, slightly extending above stamens, apex 2-lobed. Disk nearly flat-topped. Ovary sepals, glabrous. Nutlets are ovate, 1.5 mm long, 1 mm wide, dorsally slightly flattened, apically rounded, brown, glabrous. Its flowering and fruiting period is from June to January of the following year.

 Prunella hispida Benth.:flowering plant Ecological environment: The Prunella hispida Benth grows in the roadside, forest edge and hillside grassland, at elevation of 1,500~3,800 meters above sea level. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in Yunnan and southwestern Sichuan of China. It also distributes in Sikkim.
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