Leonurus cardiaca Cultivation

(1) http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mother55.html

Botanical: Leonurus cardiaca (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Labiatae

---Part Used---Herb.

Motherwort, the only British representative of the genus Leonurus, is a native of many parts of Europe, on banks and under hedges, in a gravelly or calcareous soil. It is often found in country gardens, where it was formerly grown for medicinal purposes, but it is rare to find it truly wild in England, and by some authorities it is not considered indigenous, but merely a garden escape.

---Description---It is distinguished from all other British labiates by the leaves, which are deeply and palmately cut into five lobes, or three-pointed segments, and by the prickly calyx-teeth of its flowers. When not in flower, it resembles Mugwort in habit.
From the perennial root-stock rise the square, stout stems, 2 to 3 feet high, erect and branched, principally below, the angles prominent. The leaves are very closely set, the radical ones on slender, long petioles, ovate, lobed and toothed, those on the stem, 2 to 3 inches long, petioled, wedge-shaped; the lower roundish, palmately five-lobed, the lobes trifid at the apex, the upper three-fid, coarsely serrate, reticulately veined, the veinlets prominent beneath, with slender, curved hairs. The uppermost leaves and bracts are very narrow and entire, or only with a tooth on each side, and bear in their axils numerous whorls of pinkish, or nearly white, sessile flowers, six to fifteen in a whorl. The corollas, though whitish on the outside, are stained with paler or darker purple within. They have rather short tubes and nearly flat upper lips, very hairy above, with long, woolly hairs. The two front stamens are the longest and the anthers are sprinkled with hard, shining dots.
The plant blossoms in August. It has rather a pungent odour and a very bitter taste. It is a dull green, the leaves paler below, pubescent, especially on the angles of the stem and the underside of the leaves, the hairs varying much in length and abundance. The name of the genus, Leonurus, in Greek signifies a Lion's tail, from some fancied resemblance in the plant.

---Cultivation---When once planted in a garden, Motherwort will soon increase if the seeds are permitted to scatter. It is perfectly hardy and needs no special soil, and the roots will continue for many years.
Seedlings should be planted about a foot apart.

---Part Used---The whole herb, dried, cut in August. The drying may be carried out in any of the ways described for Scullcap.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diaphoretic, antispasmodic, tonic, nervine, emmenagogue.

Motherwort is especially valuable in female weakness and disorders (hence the name), allaying nervous irritability and inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system.
As a tonic, it acts without producing febrile excitement, and in fevers, attended with nervousness and delirium, it is extremely useful.
Old writers tell us that there is no better herb for strengthening and gladdening the heart, and that it is good against hysterical complaints, and especially for palpitations of the heart when they arise from hysteric causes, and that when made into a syrup, it will allay inward tremors, faintings, etc. There is no doubt it has proved the truth of their claims in its use as a simple tonic, not only in heart disease, neuralgia and other affections of the heart, but also in spinal disease and in recovery from fevers where other tonics are inadmissable.
In Macer's Herbal we find 'Motherwort' mentioned as one of the herbs which were considered all-powerful against 'wykked sperytis.'
The best way of giving it is in the form of a conserve, made from the young tops, says one writer. It may be given in decoctions, or a strong infusion, but is very unpleasant to take that way. The infusion is made from 1 OZ. of herb to a pint of boiling water, taken in wineglassful doses.

---Preparations and Dosages---Powdered herb, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Solid extract, 5 to 15 grains.

Culpepper wrote of Motherwort:
'Venus owns this herb and it is under Leo. There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry. May be kept in a syrup, or conserve, therefore the Latins call it cardiaca.... It cleansethe the chest of cold phlegm, oppressing it and killeth worms in the belly. It is of good use to warm and dry up the cold humours, to digest and disperse them that are settled in the veins, joints and sinews of the body and to help cramps and convulsions.'

And Gerard says:
'Divers commend it against infirmities of the heart. Moreover the same is commended for green wounds; it is also a remedy against certain diseases in cattell, as the cough and murreine, and for that cause divers husbandmen oftentimes much desire it.'

(2) http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/motherwort.htm

Leonurus cardiaca
Mint family (Lamiaceae)
Description: This introduced perennial plant is 2-5' tall and sparingly branched below the inflorescence. The stems are 4-angled, heavily ridged, and slightly pubescent. The opposite leaves are variable in size and shape, although they all have long petioles that are slightly pubescent. The lower leaves often have 5 cleft lobes and several coarse teeth; they are up up to 4" long and 3" across. The middle leaves have 3 cleft lobes and a few coarse teeth; they are up to 3" long and 1" across. The upper leaves are often oblong-ovate with a pair of coarse teeth; they are up to 2" long and " across. These leaves are nearly hairless and have conspicuous veins along the upper surface. The base of each leaf is more or less wedge-shaped. The stems of Motherwort are normally erect, although older plants toward the end of the growing season have a tendency to sprawl. Whorls of sessile flowers occur above the axils of the opposite leaves on the middle to upper stems. Each tubular flower is 2-lipped and about 1/3" long. The corolla is white or light pink and quite hairy on the upper side; these fuzzy white hairs exceed 1 mm. in length. The upper lip is undivided, while the lower lip has a central lobe and 2 smaller side lobes. There are usually purple dots on the lower lip and near the throat of the corolla. The tubular green calyx has 5 lanceolate teeth; it is slightly pubescent. These teeth are sharp-pointed and persistent. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 2 months. While the flowers are not noticeably fragrant, the foliage has a slightly rank odor. Each flower is replaced by 4 nutlets that are 3-sided and reddish brown or brown. The root system consists of shallow fibrous roots and rhizomes. This plant spreads by reseeding itself and vegetatively by means of the rhizomes; it often forms colonies.

Cultivation: The preference is partial sun and moist fertile soil. If the soil becomes too dry, the lower leaves have a tendency to fall off and the entire plant may wilt or die. Plants are attractive while young, but become ragged in appearance with age.

Range & Habitat: Motherwort is a common plant in central and northern Illinois, but uncommon or absent in southern Illinois (see Distribution Map). It was introduced into the United States from Europe as an herb with medicinal properties; however, Motherwort is originally from central Asia (including Siberia). Habitats include open disturbed woodlands, areas along woodland paths, woodland borders and thickets, edges of degraded wetlands, edges of yards underneath trees, and partially shaded fence rows. While Motherwort normally occurs in disturbed areas, it can also invade higher quality woodland areas. This plant is still sold by commercial nurseries as a medicinal herb.

Faunal Associations: The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees and other long-tongued bees, including Little Carpenter bees and Anthophorine bees; these insects are attracted by nectar primarily. Syrphid flies and Halictid bees are attracted to the pollen of the flowers, but they are less effective pollinators. Occasionally the foliage is attacked by Tetranychus urticae (Two-Spotted Spider Mite), which is polyphagous. Mammalian herbivores avoid the foliage as a food source because it is bitter-tasting and probably slightly toxic. It is possible that the seeds are transported by mammals because the spine-like teeth of the calyx can cling to fur (or clothing).

Photographic Location: Underneath a tree at the edge of a yard in Urbana, Illinois.

Comments: Motherwort is one of many introduced members of the Mint family with small tubular flowers. It has foliage with a somewhat distinctive appearance and flowers that are exceptionally hairy. Motherwort belongs to large group of plants in the Mint family that produce non-terminal whorls of flowers above the opposite leaves; other groups in this large family produce terminal racemes and spikes, or non-terminal flowers that aren't whorled. The petioles of the Motherwort are longer than the flowers, and its leaves have wedged-shaped bottoms and 3-5 cleft lobes with pointed tips. Other species in the Mint family have petioles that are shorter than the flowers, or their leaves have rounded bottoms and unlobed margins. The other Leonurus sp. in Illinois, Leonurus sibericus (Siberian Motherwort), is a biennial plant with less hairy flowers (hairs less than 1 mm.) and leaves that are more deeply cleft into narrow lobes.


Cultivation: A perennial to Zone 3. Germinates in 2-3 weeks. Space 2-3 feet apart.
Soil temperature for germination 65-75F. Soil should be light, well drained and fairly poor with a pH of 7.7. Full sun. Easily self-sows once established. Plants can be put in by either hand or by transplanter. Space at 12-15 inches in the row with row spacing at 240-30 inches. Harvest the leaves and the entire flower stalk with clippers when the flowers are in full bloom, anywhere from late June into August, being sure to leave enough flower stalks for reseeding to occur. Chinese studies indicate that the active chemical components are at their highest concentrations when the plant is in bloom. Before flowering, the quantity of active components is much reduced. There is usually a small crop the first year and then two cuttings a year after that for several years. Yields of 1,200 to 2,500 pound per acre can be expected.
Dries easily in 3-5 days, though it should be turned the first couple of days.


Habitat: Hedge banks, waste places etc, usually on gravelly or calcareous soils.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

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