Botanical Name : Ballota nigra
Species: B. nigra
Common Names :Black Horehound
Habitat :Black Horehound is native to the Mediterranean region and to central Asia, and it can be found throughout Europe and the Eastern United States.It is a nitrophilous plant; it grows in ruins, fallows and hedges, up to 1300 m. It prefers loose, calcareous (alkaline) soils. It tolerates temperatures as low as -5°/-10 °C
Black Horehound is a perennial herb of the family Lamiaceae. It can grow up to 3 feet in height.
It has herbaceous ascending stems, wooden and branched at bottom, covered by down folded hairs. The plant has a taproot system.
The leaves are opposite and decussate, and range from oval-lanceolate to heart-shaped, with crenate or dentate border. Leaves, dark green and usually pubescent, measure 3–8 cm per 2–6 cm, and have 1–3 cm petiole. Upper face is wrinkled, with a net-like vein pattern.
It blooms from May to August.It has a very strong smell, and can be recognised by its clusters of hairy, reddish-purple flowers.Flowers are organized in verticillasters, subspherical to about one-sided, with 15 to 30 flowers. Each verticillaster consist of two condensed dichasial cymes at axils of normal leaves.
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Flower has an actinomorphic calyx (length 9–10 mm, width 7 mm), made up by five sepals fused together in a tube with five teeths; and a labiate corolla of 12–13 mm, ranging from pink to pale purple to withish. The corolla consist of a tube of about 6 mm and two lips; the upper one slightly concave (like a hood) and externally hairy; the lower one glabrous, with two minor lateral lobes and a major central bifid lobe. There are four didynamous stamens, running parallel under the upper lip, with glabrous filaments and yellow anthers. Ovary is superior, with a single white style and a 2-parted stigma.
Below the calyx there are five filiform bracts, 8 mm long.
Each fertilized flower produces a tetrad of black nutlets, cylindrical to ovoid, 2 mm long, partially or fully covered by the calyx. The basal end is flat and attached to the receptacle, while the top end is rounded or pointed.
Prefers a well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Avoids acid soils in the wild but tolerates a pH down to 5 in cultivation. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. This species is widely grown in herb gardens, but little employed because of its strong flavour. Its essential oil is used to adulterate the oil of white horehound (Marrubium vulgare). The leaves emit a most unpleasant smell when bruised, somewhat like stale perspiration. Plants can self-sow freely when well-sited. There is at least one named variety selected for its ornamental value. The whole plant has an offensive odour.
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 6 weeks at 15°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer or following autumn. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing
Part Used: The whole Herb.
Chemical Constituents :Black horehound contains diterpenoids like marrubiin, ballonigrin, ballotinone, ballotenol and 7-acetoxymarrubiin. Also, it contains phenylpropanoids that have shown to be antioxidants.
Antispasmodic, stimulant and vermifuge.
Black horehound has a long history of herbal use, though is not widely employed in modern herbalism because of its unpleasant flavour. Nonetheless, it does have a range of medicinal virtues, being especially effective in its action as an antiemetic. In the past it was often used for treating problems connected with the respiratory system, convulsions, low spirits and the menopause, but present-day authorities differ over whether it was effective in these applications. The whole plant is antiemetic, antispasmodic, expectorant, stimulant and vermifuge. It is taken internally in the treatment of nervous dyspepsia, travelling sickness, morning sickness in pregnancy, arthritis, gout, menstrual disorders and bronchial complaints. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and is dried for later use. It should not be stored for longer than a year. The fresh herb is sometimes used to make a syrup.
The leaves emit a most unpleasant smell when bruised, somewhat like stale perspiration.
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.