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Ajuga chamaepitys

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, grassland, meadows, rocky places.

Yellow, 5 petals
The flowers are yellow and red-spotted in the centre. Flowers measure up to 1.5cm across. Pollinated by bees.
The fruit is a schizocarp (a kind of dry fruit which splits into single-seeded parts upon ripening).
A low growing, evergreen, hairy, annual flower leaves which resemble a bushy pine seedling. The leaves are comprised of 3 needle-like, linear lobes. The needle-like leaves are a maximum of 2cm in length. The stems of the plant are square in cross section. The foliage is a greyish-green colour. An arable weed of chalky and sandy soils.
This plant smells weakly of pine resin.
Other Names:
Dwarf Bugle, Yellow Bugle, Yellow Bugleweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Ajuga chamaepitys, also known as dwarf bugle or yellow bugle, is a species of perennial plant in the mint family Lamiaceae. It is native to Europe and Central Asia. It is a small, creeping perennial plant with small green leaves, and yellow-green flowers that appear in spikes in the late spring and early summer. It typically grows in dry, rocky or sandy soils and it can be found in open and sunny places such as dry meadows, rock outcrops and cliff tops.

It's a xerophytic plant that adapts well to poor soils, and it's considered as a good plant for rock gardens, for erosion control and for ground cover. It's considered as a medicinal plant, used for treatment of minor wound and skin irritations. In some parts of its range, it's considered an endangered species due to over collecting and habitat loss.


Ground-pine, scientifically known as Ajuga chamaepitys, is a low-growing herbaceous plant native to Europe and western Asia. It belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae, and is commonly referred to as yellow bugle, yellow-flowered bugle, or dwarf pine.

The plant grows to a height of 10-30 cm and spreads up to 30 cm. It has dark green leaves that are small, oval-shaped, and arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant. The leaves are slightly hairy and have a pungent aroma when crushed. The flowers are small, bright yellow, and grow in dense clusters on short spikes that emerge from the base of the plant. They bloom from May to August.

Ground-pine thrives in dry, rocky, and sandy soils and prefers sunny locations. It can be found in open fields, meadows, and rocky slopes, and is commonly used in traditional herbal medicine.

The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. The leaves and flowering tops of the plant are used to make herbal remedies that are believed to have diuretic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat digestive disorders, respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.

Ground-pine also contains several bioactive compounds, including essential oils, flavonoids, and tannins. These compounds are believed to contribute to the plant's medicinal properties.

In addition to its medicinal properties, ground-pine is also used in landscaping and as ground cover. Its low-growing habit, attractive foliage, and bright yellow flowers make it a popular choice for rock gardens and border plantings.

Despite its many uses, ground-pine should be used with caution. The plant contains a toxic compound known as ajugalin, which can cause skin irritation, gastrointestinal distress, and other adverse effects if ingested in large quantities. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid using ground-pine as it may have uterine-stimulating properties.

Ground-pine has a rich history of use in traditional medicine. In ancient times, it was believed to have magical powers and was used as a love potion. The plant was also used to treat snake bites, scorpion stings, and as a general tonic.

In modern times, ground-pine is still used in herbal medicine to treat a variety of conditions. It is commonly used to treat urinary tract infections and is believed to have diuretic properties. The plant is also used to treat digestive disorders, such as bloating, indigestion, and gas.

Ground-pine is often used in the form of a tea, tincture, or infusion. The leaves and flowering tops of the plant are used to make these remedies. It is important to note that while ground-pine has many potential health benefits, it should not be used as a substitute for conventional medical treatment.

In addition to its medicinal uses, ground-pine is also used as a culinary herb. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste and are used to flavor dishes such as soups, stews, and sauces. The plant is also used to make herbal liqueurs and bitters.

Ground-pine is a hardy plant that requires minimal care. It can be propagated by division or by taking cuttings in the spring. The plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade. It is drought-tolerant and can thrive in a variety of soil types.

In addition to its medicinal, culinary, and landscaping uses, ground-pine has also been studied for its potential as a natural insecticide. The essential oil of the plant contains compounds that have been shown to have insecticidal and repellent properties against several insect species, including mosquitoes, houseflies, and cockroaches. This research suggests that ground-pine may have potential as an alternative to synthetic insecticides.

Ground-pine has also been used in traditional folk medicine to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The plant's anti-inflammatory properties are believed to help reduce skin irritation and inflammation. However, more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of ground-pine in treating these conditions.

Despite its potential benefits, ground-pine is not widely cultivated or used in modern medicine. Its use is often limited to traditional and folk medicine practices. This is partly due to the plant's toxic compounds and the lack of scientific research on its efficacy and safety.

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the medicinal and insecticidal properties of ground-pine, and research is ongoing to explore its potential applications. As we continue to learn more about this versatile plant, it may become an increasingly important part of our natural medicine and pest control toolkit.


In conclusion, ground-pine (Ajuga chamaepitys) is a fascinating plant with a rich history of use in traditional medicine and various other fields. Despite being relatively unknown and underutilized, the plant has many potential benefits and applications, including medicinal, culinary, landscaping, and insecticidal uses.

While ground-pine has toxic compounds that require caution when using, it remains a valuable addition to any garden or herbal medicine cabinet. It's easy to cultivate, drought-tolerant, and can thrive in various soil types and environments. Further research and studies will likely continue to uncover more of the plant's potential applications and benefits.

Overall, ground-pine represents a promising area for natural medicine, pest control, and other uses, and it's an interesting plant to explore for anyone interested in herbs, gardening, or alternative approaches to health and wellness.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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