Wildflower Wednesday: Motherwort

Motherwort

Common Name: Motherwort

Scientific Name: Leonurus cardiaca

Habitat & Range: fields, edges of woodland, possibly your yard

Bloom Time: summer

About: Remember my explanation of the “wort” in plant names? Well, the common name of this plant suggests that either you use it when your mother is coming to visit (perhaps to calm your nerves?) or it looks like a mother. Or, more probably, it was used to treat some sort of menstrual disorder and/or aid in labor. The observant among you may have noted that the scientific name suggests that the plant may be used to treat heart ailments. The very observant might notice that there are also hints toward lions (LEOnurus) and another common name for this plant is Lion’s Tail (I’m thinking that is due to the shape of the leaves).

Motherwort was introduced from central Asia as a medicinal plant, so it is not native. However, like many Asian introductions to our state (carp, emerald ash borers, etc.) it is widespread, though thankfully not so destructive as some others. It shows up in overgrown back yards where some previous resident may have had an herb garden. But, as with all herbal remedy plants, do your research and be very careful when using them. Sometimes a plant is safe in a particular form or in a diluted amount but dangerous and even deadly in other forms and amounts. Be especially careful with herbs during pregnancy. Sometimes they are purported to help a pregnant woman’s health but actually they can cause cramping and even contractions. So never go by just one source (especially not an Internet source or an old herbal you found in a used bookstore) but check multiple modern reference books for the best information.

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