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(woundwort), a genus of annual and perennial herbs or subshrubs of the family Labiatae. The leaves are opposite and entire. The usually pink, purple, white, or yellow flowers are in false whorls that form spicate inflorescences. The corolla has a flat or helmet-shaped upper lip. The fruit consists of four nutlike lobes.
There are about 300 species of woundwort, distributed in the temperate and subtropical zones of both hemispheres and in the mountains of the tropics. The USSR has about 55 species. The marsh woundwort (S. palustris) and the annual woundwort (S. annua) are weeds of fields, gardens, and fallow lands. The former occurs along bodies of water and in wet meadows, swamps, and marshy forests. The annual woundwort grows on dry slopes, along embankments, and in precipices and wastelands. It is poisonous to horses, as is the species 5. recta, which grows wild on steppe and rocky slopes. The hedge nettle (S. sylvatica) grows in shady broad-leaved and mixed forests, amid underbrush, in ravines, and in damp meadows.
The Chinese, or Japanese, artichoke (S. sieboldii) is widespread in China and Japan. It is cultivated as a vegetable in East Asia and in some countries of Europe and the Americas; the tuberous formations on the roots are eaten boiled, fried, or pickled. Many species of Stachys yield a substantial amount of nectar. The woolly betony (S. byzantina, formerly S. lanata) is cultivated as an ornamental.