Stachys is a genus of plants, one of the largest in the mint family Lamiaceae.[3] Estimates of the number of species vary from about 300,[3] to about 450.[4] Stachys is in the subfamily Lamioideae[3] and its type species is Stachys sylvatica.[5] The precise extent of the genus and its relationship to other genera in the subfamily are poorly known.

Range and naming

The distribution of the genus covers Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and North America. Common names include hedgenettle,[6] heal-all, self-heal, woundwort, betony, and lamb's ears. Wood betony, S. officinalis, was the most important medicinal herb to the Anglo-Saxons of early medieval England, and was used for many medicinal purposes from Ancient Roman times to the Early Modern period.

Stachys was named by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.[7] The name is derived from the Greek word σταχυς (stachys), meaning "an ear of grain",[8] and refers to the fact that the inflorescence is often a spike. The name woundwort derives from the past use of certain species in herbal medicine for the treatment of wounds.

Human uses

The Chinese artichoke or Crosne (S. affinis), is grown for its edible tuber.[4] Several species are cultivated as ornamentals. Woolly betony (S. byzantina) is a popular decorative garden plant. Wood betony (S. officinalis) was historically a highly valued medicinal plant.

Use by other species

Stachys species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the moths Coleophora auricella, C. lineolea, and C. wockeella, all recorded on S. officinalis. They are also widely used by the European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum), which scrape the hairs from the plant in order to use them for building their nests.[9]


Stachys is a genus of shrubs and annual or perennial herbs. The stems vary from 50–300 cm (20–120 in) tall, with simple, opposite, triangular leaves, 1–14 cm (0.4–5.5 in) long with serrate margins. In most species, the leaves are softly hairy. The flowers are 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) long, clustered in the axils of the leaves on the upper part of the stem. The corolla is 5-lobed with the top lobe forming a 'hood', varying from white to pink, purple, red or pale yellow.


The distinction between Stachys and other genera is unclear and has varied from one author to another. In 2002, a molecular phylogenetic study showed that Stachys officinalis is not closely related to the rest of the genus.[10] This study also found six other genera to be embedded within Stachys as it is currently circumscribed. The embedded genera are Prasium, Phlomidoschema, Sideritis, Haplostachys, Phyllostegia, and Stenogyne.

Fossil record

Stachys pliocenica fossil seeds are known from Upper Miocene strata of Bulgaria and Pliocene strata of south-eastern Belarus. The fossil seeds are similar to the seeds of Stachys cretica.[11]


Selected species include:[12]

Stachys tenuifolia var. hispida
Stachys alpina
Stachys byzantina
Stachys chamissonis var. cooleyae
Stachys palustris
Stachys sylvatica

Formerly placed here


  1. ^ "Genus: Stachys L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-11-03. Archived from the original on 2010-05-29. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b c Harley, R. M., et al. 2004. "Labiatae". pages 167–275. In: Kubitzki, K. (editor) and J. W. Kadereit (volume editor). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants volume VII. Springer-Verlag: Berlin; Heidelberg, Germany. ISBN 978-3-540-40593-1
  4. ^ a b Mabberley, D. J. 2008. Mabberley's Plant-Book third edition (2008). Cambridge University Press: UK.
  5. ^ Stachys In: Index Nominum Genericorum. In: Regnum Vegetabile (see External links below).
  6. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Stachys". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  7. ^ Carolus Linnaeus. 1753. Species Plantarum 2:580. Laurentii Salvii. (see External Links below).
  8. ^ Umberto Quattrocchi. 2000. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names volume I, page 91. CRC Press: Boca Raton; New York; Washington, DC;, USA. London, UK. ISBN 978-0-8493-2673-8 (set). (see External links below).
  9. ^ Eltz, Thomas; Küttner, Jennifer; Lunau, Klaus; Tollrian, Ralph (6 January 2015). "Plant secretions prevent wasp parasitism in nests of wool-carder bees, with implications for the diversification of nesting materials in Megachilidae". Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 2. doi:10.3389/fevo.2014.00086.
  10. ^ Lindqvist, C. and V. A. Albert. 2002. Origin of the Hawaiian endemic mints within North American Stachys (Lamiaceae). American Journal of Botany 89(10), 1709–24.
  11. ^ The Pliocene flora of Kholmech, south-eastern Belarus and its correlation with other Pliocene floras of Europe by Felix Yu. Velichkevich and Ewa Zastawniak - Acta Palaeobot. 43(2): 137–259, 2003
  12. ^ "Stachys L." Plants Of the World Online. Kew Science. Retrieved 2021-03-31.

External links