Bracted Bugleweed
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Bracted Bugleweed
ative Photo: Ashutosh Sharma
Common name: Bracted Bugleweed • Hindi: नीलकंठी Neelkanthi • Nepali: निल फल Nil Phal
Botanical name: Ajuga integrifolia    Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Ajuga bracteosa, Ajuga alba

Bracted Bugleweed is a perennial much-branched spreading sometimes rhizomatous herb, 5-20 cm tall, sometimes rooting at the lower nodes. Flowers are white to pale pink, lilac-blue, blue, mauve to violet, 0.6-1.3 cm long; tube 4-9 mm long, slightly curved and widened at the base, and splitting into 4 flaps as the fruit matures, with a mat of hairs near the base in a thick line just above nutlets; posterior lip with lobe notched; anterior lip up to 4 mm long; lobes with scattered hairs Stamens protruding. Calyx is sometimes weakly 2-lipped, 4-6.5 mm long; sepals lanceshaped to deltoid, velvet-hairy, curving inwards at maturity. Inflorescences are up to 25 cm long, lax at the base, becoming congested towards the tip; verticils with 8–15 flowers; bracts lanceshaped, partially sawtoothed to entire; flower-stalks 0–0.5 mm long ase of stem may be coloured pinkish blue. Stems are erect or creeping at base then rising up, slightly velvet-hairy at the base, becoming denser towards the inflorescence with long retrorse white hairs. Leaves are spreading, nearly stalkless to shortly stalked; blades inverted-lanceshaped to elliptic, 3.5-11 x 0.5-4 cm, margin sawtoothed towards the tip and more or less entire towards the base, with 2–6 teeth per side, to rounded toothed, tip pointed to rounded, base wedge-shaped, sparingly velvet-hairy to velvet-hairy with antrorse hairs, upper leaf surface greyish green, slightly velvet-hairy and veins mostly undetectable, the lower surface more velvet-hairy and lighter green than upper surface; veins visible; leaves and leaf-stalks near the base of the stem may be tinged pinkish; leaf-stalk 0-5 mm long. Nutlets are dark brown, obovoid, 2–3 mm long, netveinedly ridged, hairless Bracted Bugleweed is found in E. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Himalayas to Bhutan, Burma, China, Malaysia, at altitudes of 1000-4000 m. Flowering: March-December.

Identification credit: Ashutosh Sharma Photographed in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh & Rajouri, J&K.

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