This is quite a rare species and easy to confuse with the more commonly found Bugle (Ajuga reptans). It is a perennial plant which reaches about 25 cm in height, bearing a conical spike of oval leaves. These hairy green leaves are stalked and bluntly toothed with purplish bracts. Rich blue-purple flowers (15 mm long) emerge above these bracts, blooming from April to June. Stamens protrude slightly from the open mouth of each flower. The stems of Pyramidal Bugle differs from those of Bugle in that they are hairy all around, whereas the stems of Bugle are hairy only on opposite sides. It can be extremely difficult to see this identifying feature as the entire plant is quite small with the leaves crowded together along the stem. Another feature which helps to separate these two species is that Ajuga pyramidalis spreads by means of underground stems or rhizomes whereas Ajuga reptans has long, leafy runners or stolons. This native plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family, it favours a limestone habitat and is found, only with a large degree of persistence and luck, in Counties Clare, Galway and on Rathlin Island.
I first recorded this little flower on Rathlin Island in mid-May, 2011 when I photographed it - very badly as it was almost finished flowering. I was so fortunate to be shown this plant again, this time in the Burren, in April 2013, by Dr Stephen Ward, BSBI Joint Vice-county Recorder for Co Clare. I never would have found it on my own! The photographs are from Co Clare.
If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre