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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    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort, Common motherwort

Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort, Common motherwort


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Leonurus cardiaca is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cardiaca crispa. Cardiaca glabra. Lamium cardiaca. Leonurus glabra

Plant Habitats


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].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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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).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


A dark olive-green dye is obtained from the leaves[46, 61, 145].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

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]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: Turkey EUROPE: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Russian Federation-European part (European part (south)), Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine (incl. Krym), Former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain, France

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
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Leonurus japonicus Annual/Biennial0.9 -  LMHSNM03 
Leonurus macranthus Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNM11 
Leonurus sibiricusChinese Motherwort, HoneyweedAnnual/Biennial1.0 5-9  LMHSNM231

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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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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