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Leonurus cardiaca - L.
Common Name Motherwort, Common motherwort
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards Skin contact with this plant can cause dermatitis in susceptible people[21]. The fragrant essential oil can cause photosensitization[274]. Grazing animals can have their mouths injured by the sharp teeth of the calyces[274]. Avoid during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant although it has been used during labour [301].
Habitats Hedge banks, waste places etc[9, 17], usually on gravelly or calcareous soils[4].
Range Europe. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort, Common motherwort

Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort, Common motherwort
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Leonurus cardiaca is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cardiaca crispa. Cardiaca glabra. Lamium cardiaca. Leonurus glabra

Edible Uses
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

The fresh or dried flowers can be used as a flavouring in soups, particularly lentil or split pea[183]. They are also used as a flavouring in beer[183]. Fresh or dried flowers can be used to make a tea[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiarrhythmic;  Antiflatulent;  Antispasmodic;  Astringent;  Birthing aid;  Cardiac;  Diaphoretic;  Emmenagogue;  
Homeopathy;  Nervine;  Sedative;  Stomachic;  Tonic;  Women's complaints.

Motherwort is especially valuable in the treatment of female weaknesses and disorders, allaying nervous irritability, inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system[4]. It is also seen as a remedy for heart palpitations, it has a strengthening effect, especially on a weak heart[254]. The antispasmodic and sedative effects promote relaxation rather than drowsiness[254]. The leaves are antispasmodic, astringent, cardiac, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic and uterine stimulant[4, 9, 21, 46, 165, 222]. They are taken internally in the treatment of heart complaints (notably palpitations) and problems associated with menstruation, childbirth and menopause, especially of nervous origin[238]. Although an infusion can be used, the taste is so bitter that the plant is usually made into a conserve or syrup[244]. An alcoholic extract is said to possess superior action to valerian (Valeriana officinalis)[240]. The plant has been found effective in the treatment of functional heart complaints due to autonomic imbalance, and also as an anti-thyroid treatment, though it needs to be taken for several months for these effects to be noticed[244]. The whole herb is harvested in August when in flower and can be dried for later use[4]. It should not be prescribed in the earlier stages of pregnancy or where periods are heavy[238, 254]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[9]. It is used in the treatment of heart complaints, amenorrhoea, menopausal problems and flatulence[9]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort for nervous heart complaints (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses

A dark olive-green dye is obtained from the leaves[46, 61, 145].
Cultivation details
An easily grown plant that succeeds in most soils[4], preferring one on the poor side[108]. This plant was at one time cultivated for its medicinal uses[4]. The whole plant is deliciously pungent when handled[245]. The plant often self-sows when well-sited[200].
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, or even in situ. Division in spring or autumn[238]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Bill   Wed Oct 25 2006
Motherwort attracts baby bumblebees (here in Somerset County Pennsylvania). Bumblebees are good pollinators and can work at lower temperatures than other bees. With declines in Honey Bee numbers, Motherwort and Bumblebees could make a good team.
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Subject : Leonurus cardiaca  

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