A very tough perennial hardy to zone 3. It will grow on poor soil in full sunshine. Needs little extra water once established unless there is a severe drought. Takes almost no maintenance once established and will grow and self seed easily. Will flower from seed in the first year and the deer and rabbits don't seem to eat it. Easy harvesting of leaves or makes a good cut flower if desired.
A tough little perennial hardy to zone 3. In spring it puts out square erect stems and a profusion of mid green leaves. Leaves are similar to maple leaves only more elongated. Technically described as ovate, lobed and toothed. They are deeply veined and textured. The ones at the base can reach 3 inches in length while those on the stems are much smaller and usually divided into 3 toothed lobes. Stems can reach 3 feet in height and the flowers are situated in bunches around the top portion of the stems. Each flower consists of two lips: the upper one is undivided, the lower one has 3 lobes with purple dots on them. The overall flower color is usually pink but can be white or red and very hairy. Flowers arise in mid to late summer but can be earlier depending on the location and amount of sunshine. Can flower the first year from seed, but flowering will be later in the year than normal. Whole plant has mild aroma which some people find unpleasant. Will remain evergreen in warmer zone and it not killed down by frosts. Deer don't seem to eat it.
Location and care
Motherwort is a tough little plant and can grow in many places. It is most happy on poor soils in full sunshine but it can tolerate some partial shade. A too fertile soil seems to stunt its growth. It likes a fairly neutral soil but can tolerate a pH a little on either side. Takes very little care once established and is fairly drought tolerant.
Water when being established then only if there is prolonged drought, mostly takes care of itself and thrives on neglect.
If growing for leaf harvest some additional water with a soaker hose is recommended to ensure a strong prolific crop of leaves. Ideal for areas where not too much grows or that needs plants with little care. The textured leaves give the plant interest and good contrast with many other plants. Flowers from seed in first year but will grow much larger in second year. If growing for leaf harvest expect to replace plants every 4-5 years as they begin to wane. Some plants may die off before this time and need replacing.
Can be sown directly outdoors after danger of frost has passed if sufficient seed is available. More commonly it is sown in pots, plug cells or seed trays in late winter. Plant about 1/8" deep. Germination usually takes 14-21 days depending on temperature and other conditions. Transplant into individual pots and grow on to about 6 inches before hardening off and planting out. Space plants about 15 inches apart to allow for spread. Can self sow once established. Divide and replant clumps in early spring or fall.
Leaves are harvested when the plant is in full bloom or just after. Research studies have shown that the active ingredient of the plant are at their highest at this time. If plants are cut down as the plant flowers new shoots will form and plant will attempt a second flowering. Once harvest can be achieved in the first year from seed and two for several subsequent years. Expect to replace plants about every 5 years.
The fresh or dried flowers can be used as a flavouring in soups, particularly lentil or split pea. They are also used as a flavouring in beer]. Fresh or dried flowers can be used to make a tea.
Motherwort remedies are also powerful means against typical women problems as irregular and painful menstruations; amenorrhea; hot flashes, vertigo, dizziness and other symptoms of menopause. It also soothes tension, nervousness, and stress accompanying the mentioned conditions. Motherwort is very helpful in eliminating insomnia and calming nerves.
This plant has been for centuries used as the means that improve uterine contractions during labour and relieve pain and stress due to childbirth, as well as depression following it. Its remedies also promote milk flow in nursing mothers. Headache may also be eliminated with the help of Motherwort.
Despite its name and use for female complaints one of the major applications for motherwort is for cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmia, tachycardia, hypertension; as well as prevention of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. It is used especially for palpitations and associated hysteria.
Leaves are used to make a excellent green dye. It makes a good cut flower and can be dried for later decorative use.
Skin contact with this plant can cause dermatitis in susceptible people. The fragrant essential oil can cause photosensitization. Grazing animals can have their mouths injured by the sharp teeth of the calyces
Leonurus sibiricus; Leonurus heterophyllus, artgespan, Agripalma, Agripaume, äkta hjärtstilla, and yi mu cao, Aslankuyrugu, bonässla, Common Motherwort, Echtes Herzgespann, Echtes Lövenschwanz , Hartgespan, heartwort , Herbe battudo , Hjärtstilla, hjärtstilla Almindelig Hjertespand, ikmoch'o, lion's ear, lion's tail, lion's tart, Løvehale, marihuanilla, Melissa, Motherwort, Nukula, Roman motherwort, salvatica , Scerdecznik pospolity, throwwort, throw-wort, ullig, yakumos, Yi mu cao
Motherwort plants first year in field
Motherwort plants second year in field