Stachys Officinalis - commonly known as Purple Betony, Wood Betony or Bishop's Wort - is a perennial grassland herb growing up to 70cm tall. Its leaves are stalked on upright stems, narrowly oval, with a heart-shaped base and a somewhat wrinkled texture and toothed margins. The flowers are usually purple or red, but occasionally white.
In folklore the name Betony is alleged to derive from the Celtic word bewton ("good for the head"). The first reference to it occurs in a work by the Roman physician Antonius Musa, who claimed it was effective against sorcery. Later it was claimed to be effective against snake and dog bites, and against drunkenness. It was often planted in churchyards to prevent activity by ghosts.
It flowers in mid-Summer, from June to October, and is found in dry grassland, meadows and open woods in most of Europe, western Asia and North Africa. In the British Isles it is common in England and Wales, but rare in Ireland and northern Scotland.
This pretty flower is slow at getting started and can take several years before flowers are seen. Very early June cut knot too low) or very late September cut is best for this species. Once established it is the jewel in the meadow though and can resist mid summer cutting occasionally which will promote other species.