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Downy Woundwort

Stachys germanica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, hedgerows, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 2 petals
Pale pinkish-purple flowers which appear in whorled clusters around the leaf axils at the top of the plant. Pollinated by bees.
The fruit is a nutlet. The seeds ripen from August to October.
A short-lived perennial plant with leaves covered in felty, greyish-white hairs. The leaves are toothed, pointed oval and the lower leaves are long-stalked. The leaves are not as white-downy as the similar looking garden escape species Lamb's-ear (Stachys byzantina).
Other Names:
German Hedge-nettle, German Woundwort.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Stachys germanica, commonly known as German hedge-nettle or German woundwort, is a species of perennial herb in the Lamiaceae family. It is native to Europe, typically found in grasslands, waste places, and along roadsides. It has small, white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer and leaves that are opposite, simple and hairy. The plant is considered an invasive weed in some areas. It has been traditionally used in medicine and it has been used as a stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, and diuretic. The plant has also been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments such as respiratory problems, digestive issues and menstrual cramps, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its medicinal properties.


Downy Woundwort, also known as Stachys germanica, is a plant species that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and is commonly found growing in meadows, along the banks of streams and rivers, and in other moist areas.

The plant grows to a height of 30-60 cm, producing spikes of purplish-pink flowers from June to September. The leaves of the Downy Woundwort are opposite and hairy, giving the plant a soft, downy appearance. They are also aromatic, having a scent that is reminiscent of mint.

Downy Woundwort is best known for its traditional use in herbal medicine, where it has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments. It was believed to have antiseptic and wound-healing properties, and was used to treat wounds, cuts, and abrasions. It was also used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and to relieve pain and swelling.

In modern times, Downy Woundwort is still used in herbal medicine, although its use is more limited. It is still believed to have antiseptic properties, and is sometimes used as a natural remedy for minor cuts and wounds. However, due to the limited scientific evidence to support its use, it is not widely used or recommended as a medicinal plant.

Aside from its medicinal properties, Downy Woundwort is also valued for its ornamental qualities. Its purplish-pink flowers are attractive to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths, making it a valuable addition to any wildlife garden. It is also easy to grow and care for, making it a popular choice for gardeners.

Downy Woundwort is a versatile and attractive plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and its ornamental qualities. While its use in modern herbal medicine is limited, it is still a valuable plant to have in any garden, and its beauty and benefits are sure to be appreciated for generations to come.

Downy Woundwort can be propagated by division or by seed. To propagate by division, simply dig up the plant and divide it into smaller sections, making sure each section has a healthy root system. Plant the divided sections in the desired location and water well.

To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a tray of seed compost in the spring. Cover the seeds with a light layer of compost and water well. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual pots and grow on in a greenhouse or cold frame. When the plants are big enough, plant them out in the desired location.

Downy Woundwort prefers moist, well-drained soil and a position in full sun or partial shade. It is a tough and hardy plant that is not fussy about soil conditions and will grow well in most soils. However, it will perform best in a moist, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter.

In terms of care, Downy Woundwort is relatively low maintenance. Water regularly during dry spells, especially when the plant is in flower, to ensure it receives enough moisture. Cut back the flowering stems after they have finished blooming to encourage a second flush of flowers.

Downy Woundwort can also be prone to certain pests and diseases, although this is rare. Watch out for aphids, which can cause damage to the leaves, and slugs and snails, which can damage the foliage. Powdery mildew can also be a problem, especially in humid conditions. To prevent this, avoid planting the plant in shady, humid locations.

Downy Woundwort is a versatile and attractive plant that is easy to grow and care for. Its ornamental qualities and its traditional use in herbal medicine make it a valuable addition to any garden, whether for its beauty or its benefits. With the right conditions and care, Downy Woundwort will thrive and provide years of enjoyment.

Another interesting aspect of Downy Woundwort is its cultural significance. In folklore and mythology, the plant was believed to have magical properties and was sometimes used in love spells and rituals. In some cultures, it was believed that carrying a piece of the plant would bring good luck and protect against evil spirits.

In traditional medicine, Downy Woundwort was often used in combination with other herbs to enhance its healing properties. For example, it was sometimes combined with yarrow, another plant with antiseptic properties, to create a wound-healing ointment.

It is also worth mentioning that Downy Woundwort should be used with caution, as it can have toxic effects if consumed in large quantities. The plant contains alkaloids that can be toxic to livestock and pets, so it should be used with care and kept away from animals.

In conclusion, Downy Woundwort is not only a beautiful and useful plant, but also has a rich cultural history and significance. Whether for its ornamental qualities, its traditional use in herbal medicine, or its cultural significance, Downy Woundwort is a plant that is worth considering for any garden. With its ease of care and versatility, it is sure to be a valuable addition to any collection.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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