Motherwort

Botanical Name : Leonurus cardiaca
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Leonurus
Species: L. cardiaca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms:  Cardiaca crispa. Cardiaca glabra. Lamium cardiaca. Leonurus glabra

Common Names :Motherwort, Throw-wort, Lion’s Ear, and Lion’s Tail. Lion’s Tail and Lion’s Ear.

Habitat :Motherwort is probably native to the southeastern part of Europe and central Asia where it has been cultivated since ancient times.
it is now found worldwide, spread largely due to its use as a herbal remedy. Its natural habitat is beside roadsides, in vacant fields, waste ground, rubbish dumps and other disturbed areas. This plant prefers well drained soil and a partly shady location. It is hardy in USDA climate zones 4–8.

Description:
Motherwort is a herbaceous perennial plant. It has a squarish stem which is clad in short hairs and is often purplish, especially near the nodes. The opposite leaves have serrated margins and are palmately lobed with long petioles; basal leaves are wedge shaped with three points while the upper leaves have five. They are slightly hairy above and greyish beneath. Flowers appear in leaf axils on the upper part of the plant and have three-lobed bracts. The calyx of each flower is bell-shaped and has five lobes. The corolla is irregular, 8 to 12 mm (0.3 to 0.5 in) long, fused, long-tubed with two lips. The upper lip is convex and covered with white hairs and the lower lip is three-lobed and downward-curving and spotted with red. The flowers are pink to lilac in colour often with furry lower lips. There are four stamens, two short and two longer, and the fruit is a four-chambered schizocarp. The plant grows to about 60 to 100 cm (24 to 39 in) in height and blooms during July and August.
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Cultivation:
An easily grown plant that succeeds in most soils, preferring one on the poor side. This plant was at one time cultivated for its medicinal uses. The whole plant is deliciously pungent when handled. The plant often self-sows when well-sited.

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. 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.

Edible Uses: 
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

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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

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

Motherwort is especially valuable in the treatment of female weaknesses and disorders, allaying nervous irritability, inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system. It is also seen as a remedy for heart palpitations, it has a strengthening effect, especially on a weak heart. The antispasmodic and sedative effects promote relaxation rather than drowsiness. The leaves are antispasmodic, astringent, cardiac, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, sedative, stomachic, tonic and uterine stimulant. They are taken internally in the treatment of heart complaints (notably palpitations) and problems associated with menstruation, childbirth and menopause, especially of nervous origin. Although an infusion can be used, the taste is so bitter that the plant is usually made into a conserve or syrup. An alcoholic extract is said to possess superior action to valerian (Valeriana officinalis). 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. The whole herb is harvested in August when in flower and can be dried for later use. It should not be prescribed in the earlier stages of pregnancy or where periods are heavy. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of heart complaints, amenorrhoea, menopausal problems and flatulence. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort for nervous heart complaints.

Other Uses:
Dye.
A dark olive-green dye is obtained from the leaves

Known Hazards :  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. Avoid during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant although it has been used during labour.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonurus_cardiaca
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Leonurus+cardiaca
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mother55.html

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