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 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.
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.
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.
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.