Leonurus cardiaca
Common Name: motherwort
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Native Range: Scandinavia to northern Spain, Italy and Greece
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Lilac-pink
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy

Culture

Best grown in moist, fertile soils in part shade. Avoid dry soils. Plants will naturalize in the landscape. May be propagated by seed or division.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Leonurus cardiac, commonly known as motherwort, is an herbaceous perennial of the mint family that typically grows to 2-4’ tall. It is native to southeastern Europe and central Asia, but has over time been introduced and spread to many places around the world. It is now found throughout much of Canada and the continental U.S. principally along roads, woodland margins, disturbed areas and waste ground. Upright, four-angled stems are clad with pairs of opposite, wedge-shaped, horizontally-held, long-stalked, dull green leaves. Each leaf has three distinctive lobes with pointed tips. Lower leaves are 2-4” long, but diminish in both length and lobe size in the upper parts of the plant. Small, sessile, pink-lilac flowers (each to 1/2” long) with tubular 2-lipped corollas bloom from June to August in rosettes nestled in the leaf axils.

Motherwort has a long history of serving as an herbal with medicinal properties. It was once used by herb doctors in the treatment of a variety of female medical disorders, hence the common name reference to mother. It was also once used as a heart stimulant for treatment of heart palpatations.

Genus name comes from the Greek leon meaning lion and oura meaning tail in reference to the inflorescence.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin cardiaca meaning used for treating heart conditions in reference to the former medicinal use of the plant as a heart stimulant.

An additional common name for genus plants is lion’s tail.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Although once popular as a medicinal herb, motherwort is no longer used for medicinal purposes. Plants are typically not recommended for ornamental garden use unless grown in herb gardens for somewhat historical reasons. Plants can be weedy additions to the landscape.