These flowering plants are members of the labiate family. The word labiate is derived from the Latin word, labium which means a lip. Flowers in this family are tubular and have two lips, an upper one and a lower one. The upper one is called a cowl or hood. Pollinating insects use the lower one as a landing platform. Their leaves emit strong aromas when crushed and their stems are square shaped. Plants in this family include mint, lavender, rosemary, lemon balm, basil, thyme, hyssop, salvia and marjoram.
Hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica) or Créachtlus in Irish is common now in woods, hedgerows and shady places. (1a) The reddish-purple, hairy leaves are heart shaped and look like nettle leaves. When squeezed they emit a pungent, unpleasant smell. The flowers grow in whorls along the hairy stems. (1b) As its name suggests it was used for healing wounds. It is popular with bees and on a sunny day many can be seen foraging on the plant.
Marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris) or Cabhsadán/Duilleog na saor in Irish can frequently be seen now especially in damp places such as ditches, river and canal banks and waste places. (2a) It flowers in spikes and individual flowers are pinkish purple. Its leaves are lanceolate and hairy and occur in opposite pairs; the hairy, square stems are hollow. The leaves have a pungent smell, but this is not at all as strong as that from the leaves of Hedge woundwort. (2b) It attracts bumblebees and other insects and in times past it was used as an antiseptic and for stopping bleeding.