Motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca

Angel Crow 09/23/2020

By D. Gordon E. Robertson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


cool, dry, relaxant

Leonurus cardiaca
Common Names: motherwort, throw-wort, lion’s ear, and lion’s tail.
Taste: bitter, acrid, aromatic
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) 
Plant Description:
An herbaceous perennial in the mint family with a square stem covered in small hairs and purplish near the nodes. The leaves are hairy, lobed, thick, grooved, and toothed, they have dark green color with paler undersides. The flower grows in clusters above the leaves and has very spiky seed pods that will poke when harvesting. Blooms from midsummer to midfall in whorls of pale pink to red-purple flowers.

Herbarium of Baltimore Woods – Marcellus, Onondaga Co., N. Y. Leonurus cardiaca L. – Motherwort

Cultivation: Motherwort is forgiving and will thrive in many light and soil conditions. It self seeds quite regularly so plant in an area where spread is preferable. Self seeding can be avoided by cutting back 3-4 inches after flowering to keep seed production down. Sow in the Spring and divide roots in late Spring or midautumn. Thin seedlings to 12 inches.
Propagation: Seeds need to be stratified, meaning they need the exposure of cold or cold weather. Many stratify their seeds by planting them in the fall or keep them in the refrigerator for a few months prior to seeding.
Preservation: Harvest when in full bloom. The aerial parts of the plant are to be used, leaves, flowers and stems. You can hang them in bunches in a dry dark place, or you can place cuttings in a paper bag. Shake the bag once a day to increase airflow. Once dry store in a jar away from heat or light.
Medicinal Parts: Leaves, flowers, and Aerial parts
Actions: nervine, sedative, emmenagogue, cardiac tonic & antispasmodic, relaxing, diaphoretic, digestive
Affinities: the nervous and cardiovascular systems
Notable Constituents: humulene, pinene, caryophyllene, apigenin, leonurine, leocardin,
quercetin, tannins

Medicinal Applications:

  • Motherwort is a cardiac tonic and an antispasmodic. It relaxes the cardiovascular system making it a splendid aid for palpitations, heart murmur, and angina or pain in the chest. It has a vasodilating effect, opening the blood vessels and improving blood flow.
  • Motherwort is a cooling cardiac remedy assisting in removing heat from the upper body in the area surrounding the heart. This is helpful for high blood pressure conditions and heat in the circulatory system, or for heat conditions such as hyperthyroidism.
  • Helpful for releasing the heat of a fever by opening the periphery at the level of the skin imparting a diaphoretic action.
  • As a bitter herb the digestive system is stimulated and is especially helpful for indegestion due to nerves.
  • Calming and grounding as a Nervine, cardiac tonic, bitter, and antispasmodic its effects focus on the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest system conserves energy and slows the heart rate). It is especially helpful for anxiety, nervousness, headaches, tension, insomnia, and repeated waking in the night.
  • An emmenagogue and uterine relaxant, it helps to bring on a stagnant period especially those accompanied with emotional difficulties or anxiety. Helpful in expelling the afterbirth when the placenta does not drop easily after childbirth.

In Practice:

  • An excellent remedy for nervous conditions and insomnia, especially when heat and anxiety is present.
  • Known as Lion Heart, Motherwort imparts courage and aids in setting boundaries.

Cautions: Motherwort can interact with cardiac medications. Avoid taking Motherwort the week prior to menstruation in those with heavy flow. May cause contact dermatitis. Don’t use if you have a blood clotting problem.

Companion Herbs: rose, linden, hawthorn, hibiscus, blue vervain, lemon balm, sage, red rasberry

History: Used traditionally as a dark green wool dye. Sometimes mixed with mullein or other lung herbs to assist with asthma, bronchitis, and other lung problems.


Bremness, Lesley, The Complete Book of Herbs A Practicle Guide to Growing and Using Herbs, New York, Ny, Penguin Group, 1988 Print

The American Herb Association and Kathi Keville, Director, Complete Book of Herbs Using Herbs to Enrich Your Garden, Home, and Health, Lincolnwood, Il, 1997, Print

Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, Materia Medica,

Jeanroy, Amy, The Spruce “How To Grow and Use Motherwort”,light%20conditions%2C%20and%20most%20soils.

Wesserle, Maria, Four Season Foraging “Basic Herbal Preperations with Motherwort”,and%20discard%20the%20stem%20outdoors.


Published by Angel Crow

Neurodivergent, herbalist, artist, writer, poet, horticulturist, musician, student

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