bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of bugleweed is
Ajuga reptans L. Bugle is a common herb that often grows in large clumps.
The flowers are deep purplish blue, rarely pink or white, and are arranged
on tapering flower stalks. The dark leaves have an unusual colouration,
with a purplish-brown or violet sheen on a dark green ground colour. An alternative name for this plant, 'thunder and lightning' is thought to refer to
the contrast between the shiny highlights and deep background colour of
the leaves. The common name 'bugle' does not refer to the musical instru-
ment, but is thought to derive from 'bugula', a name used by apothecaries, which may in turn be a corruption of the generic Latin name 'Ajuga'.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This introduced perennial plant is 4-12" tall and unbranched, con-
sisting of a rosette of leaves and a flowering stalk.
Leaves: The basal leaves are up to 3" long and 1" across. They are ever-
green or semi-evergreen, obovate (spoon-shaped), and nearly hairless.
Their margins are crenate and slightly undulate. The flowering stalk is 4-angled and slightly pubescent or hairy. The opposite leaves along this
stalk are similar to the basal leaves, except that they are smaller in size
Flowers: The flowers occur in a whorled spike along the upper half of the leafy stalk. They are produced in abundance and densely distributed along
this spike. Each tubular flower is about 1/22/3" in length, consisting of a 2-lipped corolla and a green calyx with 5 teeth. The corolla is usually var-
ious shades of blue-violet, and less often pink or white. There are dark blue-violet lines that lead toward the throat of the corolla; they function as nectar guides. The upper lip of the corolla is truncated and very small, while the
large lower lip has 3 rounded lobes. The middle lobe of the lower lip is notched at its tip and the largest in size. The outer surface of the corolla
behind the lobes is conspicuously hairy; this causes the flower buds to
Fruit/Seeds: Each flower is replaced by 4 nutlets that are oval-shaped
and pitted across the surface.
Roots: The root system consists of a crown of fibrous roots. Green stolons
up to 12" long are produced from the rosette of basal leaves. They are largely naked, except for a few small leaves that are narrowly ovate. These stolons often form new plantlets by rooting at their tips. Carpet bugle can reproduce by seeds or vegetatively by means of these stolons; it often forms colonies.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Bugleweed propogates itself through re-
seeding and vegetatively through its stolons.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include partially shaded areas of lawns,
edges of yards, nursery plots, and edges of woodlands. This plant is
occasionally used as a ground cover because of its evergreen leaves and
low spreading habit, but it is potentially invasive of natural areas. In
Eurasia, where it is native, this plant occurs in partially shaded areas of
deciduous woodlands, thickets, or meadows; the flowers bloom before
the leaves of the trees have become fully developed.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Bugleweed prefers partial sun, slightly
moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil that is somewhat acidic.
If the soil is poorly drained and soggy, crown rot can develop and spread
rapidly. In sandy soil, the roots are occasionally attacked by nematodes.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs during the
spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Bugleweed is a species primarily distri-
buted in the eastern United States and Canada. It extends west through
the Ohio Valley to the Mississippi River, but becomes more sporadic
farther west. It encompasses all the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf states
as far west as Texas, but is only appears sporadically and disjunctively
west of the Missouri River through the Rocky Mountain states, Great
Plains states and provinces, and far west Pacific states. It reappears in
the Pacific northwest (Washington and Oregon) and British Columbia.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees
and other long-tongued bees. According to sources within the horticulture
industry, the foliage is rarely bothered by rabbits and deer.
Crooked Run Valley