This species exists as a rosette for most of the year, but in May it sends up a column of blue-purple flowers that last into June. It is reasonably distinctive, but can be confused with Self-heal, a smaller but commoner species with similar blue flowers. It grows amongst grass on damp and poorly-drained soils, and can bear some shade. The flower spikes are initially prominent enough, but for much of its flowering period they are hidden in grass.
A century ago it was common throughout the district and remained so in 1948, when the Gloucestershire Flora described it as common on damp ground in woods and other places in the Dean district. On 01/05/1924, Flora Klickmann recorded that it was 'lavishly in flower', presumably around her home.
In 2017 it is still frequent on the Hudnalls (Map), but seems to be absent from the farmland on the plateau. However, there are several places where it was recorded 15-25 years ago, for which we have no recent record, and we have no records at all from woodland, where it was said to be common in 1948.
Bugle populations must have declined a good deal since 1920, but the apparent recent decline should be treated with caution. This is not a species that attracts much attention and I suspect that it has been under-recorded in 2017.
- Decreased since 1920 and certainly not increasing now, but present trend is uncertain.