Alison AplinAjuga australis – the Australian Bugle

Commonly called the ‘Austral Bugle’, Ajuga australis is an easy to grow plant and deserves to be better known. It is an Australian native, but is often confused with Ajuga reptans which is an herbacious plant native to Europe.

Ajuga australis Photo Mark Marathon

Ajuga australis Photo Mark Marathon

Ajuga australis is propagated from cuttings, whereas the far more rampant Ajuga reptans is propagated from division of the clump. The leaves and flowers are also quite different.

Ajuga reptans

Ajuga reptans







The Australian bugle is widespread throughout southern and eastern Australia. It can be found in a range of soils and habitats from coastal forests to the dry, mallee country – I have mine growing in both limestone and heavier soil, though it is growing better in the former. Both are in part shade.

Ajuga australis flower Photo Mark Marathon

Ajuga australis flower Photo Mark Marathon

Both plants [Ajuga australis and Ajuga reptans] are perennial herbs of the Lamiaceae family. Ajuga australis can spread in time to 1 metre wide, though is usually more contained. The leaves are velvety and toothed with the leaves diminishing as they go up the stem. The flower stem length is about 15 cm long.

The pretty deep blue or purple flowers are seen mainly in spring and summer. It is a tough little plant that will grow well in most positions as long as the soil is well drained. I have found it difficult to source – too often the plant that is sold as Ajuga australis is in fact Ajuga reptans with growers insisting that their plant is correctly named.

Ajuga australis growing habit

Ajuga australis growing habit

The only place that I have been able to correctly source this plant is State Flora in Belair, South Australia. It is well worth the effort sourcing it for its blue coloration, a colour that I am always looking for in my native garden.



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Alison Aplin

About Alison Aplin

Alison is a passionate, multi award winning sustainable landscape designer, Horticulturist and arborist. She has been the owner and designer of 2 Ecotourism gardens that have both won significant awards. Her writing is based on knowledge, empirical learning which is essential to sustainable ethic, and a questioning mind leading to much research. Her articles are often controversial - with a disclaimer that she is responsible for the written matter, and not Garden Drum. A deeply caring person about the natural environment, Alison's writing endeavours to explain why sustainable landscapes are so important. Without people like her, they will be lost and gardens will become merely concrete

6 thoughts on “Ajuga australis – the Australian Bugle

  1. Karen McKechnie on said:

    Does the Ajuga australis have a long green seed pod? 5 cm long and inside it contains numerous yellow seeds. K.

  2. AliCat on said:

    Hello Karen
    Ajuga australis can be grown from seed – though I have never had it develop. I have always propagated from runners or cutting.
    I am unsure about the degree of seed production that you refer to – it sounds almost weedy. Does your plant look like those in the pictures? It will not be the Ajuga reptans – that definitely doesn’t produce seed.
    I will do a little more research on it and follow up with another comment once I know more Karen.

  3. AliCat on said:

    According to Angus Stewart, what you have described in not consistent with Ajuga australis. He states that “the fruit is quite small, a few mm in diameter with very small dark coloured seeds from memory. Not sure what they are looking at at 5cm, maybe some kind of fungal fruiting body perhaps????”
    Can you take a photo of your plant in various stages i.e flowering, leaves, seed pod so that may be one of us can identify it?

  4. sunita on said:

    how long (how many month) this Ajuga australis take to flower from seed/cuttings. Happy to hear

    • Alison on said:

      Hello Sunita
      I do not believe that this plant would come true from seed, if in fact it grew from seed. Propagation is via cuttings.

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