The downy hemp-nettle (Galeopsis segetum Neck., 1770) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Lamiaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
G. segetum species.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Dalanum segetum (Neck.) Dostál;
– Galeopsis cannabina (L.) Pollich;
– Galeopsis conillii Sennen;
– Galeopsis dubia Leers;
– Galeopsis elegans Boreau;
– Galeopsis grandiflora Roth;
– Galeopsis ochroleuca Lam .;
– Galeopsis segetum var. aranensis O.Bolòs & Vigo;
– Galeopsis segetum f. glabra J.Duvign .;
– Galeopsis tetrahit var. cannabine L .;
– Galeopsis villosa Huds .;
– Ladanella segetum (Neck.) Pouzar & Slavíková;
– Ladanum dubium (Leers) Kuntze;
– Ladanum luteum Gilib .;
– Ladanum ochroleucum (Lam.) Slavíková;
– Tetrahit longiflorum Moench.
The term Galeopsis comes from the Greek γᾰλέη galée gatta, weasel, polecat and from ὄψις ópsis similarity: reminiscent of a skunk due to its unpleasant smell.
The specific epithet segetum is the plural genitive of séges, ségetis arable fields, especially cultivated with wheat: crops.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Galeopsis segetum is a plant found in Western Europe (including Great Britain, from Denmark to Germany and Spain and beyond), even in the east in areas with a suboceanic climate.
In Italy it is a rare species and is found only in the North-East. In the Alps it is present in some areas of the center. Outside Italy, still in the Alps, this species is found in France (departments of Drôme, Isère and Savoy) and in Switzerland (canton of Valais). On the other European reliefs connected to the Alps it is found in the Black Forest, Vosges, Jura Massif, Massif Central and Pyrenees.
Its habitat is that of the fields, especially where wheat and corn are grown, gravels and ruderal areas. The preferred substrate is siliceous with acid pH, medium nutritional values of the soil which must be moderately humid, where it grows from 0 to 1500 m s.l.m ..
The downy hemp-nettle is a plant that can reach 10 – 30 cm in height.
It has an erect stem, more or less branched and with a cylindrical section of 2.5 (3.5) mm, green in color and covered with frizzy and reddish glandular hairs (especially in the apical part) and without the presence of swelling at the nodes.
The leaves are 1.1 x 3 (2.50 – 0.40) cm, with an opposite and alternating arrangement, oval-lanceolate, attenuated at the petiole, densely hairy, with well-marked veins and with a margin with 3 – 9 blunt teeth on each side. The leaf petiole is 0.3 – 1.7 cm and with a burgundy color.
The leaf bracts similar to the main leaves but much smaller placed at the axil of the petiole and parallel (2 + 2), also covered with silky hair and with evident veins.
The bracelets are lanceolate with curved spine (3) 5 – 9.5 (12) mm.
The inflorescence forms vertical ribbons bearing 2-12 (16) flowers, with a diameter of 2-11 (28) cm.
The glass is campanulate, light green in color, with purple hues (4.7) 8.6 – 12.6 (14.5) mm, sprinkled with hairs with spherical and brilliant glands.
The tube is 6 – 7 mm covered with glandular hairs and ending with 5-6 glabrous and thorny teeth of c. 4.5-5.5 mm.
The corolla is white or pale yellow of 16-26 (35) mm, composed of 2 parts: upper lip in the shape of an erect helmet of c. 5 mm with thick hair in the upper part, and lower lip of 5-8.5 mm, trilobed with a larger median lobe (4-7.5 mm) with bright yellow macules and reddish streaks near the fauce and carrying two hollow conical humps inside and facing the side lobes; lateral lobes shorter and slightly detached, sprinkled with a faint yellow color.
It has 4 didynamic stamens (2 shorter and 2 longer), inserted in the upper lip and bearing yellowish anthers. The stigma is trifid.
Flowering is from July to August, until October.
The fruit is a microbasarium (tetrachenium or tetranucula) with 4 mericarps (nucule) included in the calyx, of about 2.4 x 1.5 mm, from ovoid to trine or even subglobose of brown-greyish color, mottled with blackish spots.
Galeopsis segetum is a plant pollinated by insects (entomogamous pollination) by diptera, hymenoptera, and lepidoptera (less frequently).
The dispersion of the seeds that fall to the ground occurs mainly by means of insects such as ants (myrmecoria dissemination).
This plant grows in most soils, does not like heavy shade, and is sometimes grown in wild gardens.
Reproduction can take place by seed, with spring sowing in situ, and germination usually takes place within a month.
Customs and Traditions –
According to popular medicine, Galeopsis segetum has some medicinal properties.
Due to the presence of active ingredients such as: salicylic acid, tannins and polyphenols it is used, in pharmacopoeia, to treat respiratory tract disorders therefore as an expectorant, for pharyngitis, sore throat, inflammation of the bronchi, angina and also as a diuretic.
The plant is therefore astringent, diuretic and slightly expectorant.
In homeopathic medicine it is used to treat the spleen.
In addition to these uses, there are no other uses in the food or ecological field.
Preparation Method –
Galeopsis segetum is harvested in summer and can be used fresh or dried.
A decoction can be prepared from this plant which is used in the treatment of whooping cough, bronchitis, tracheitis, etc.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.