In this monograph we’re discussing a plant that, although not native to the Netherlands, has been living here quite happily since at least the 7th century. I’m talking about motherwort, Leonurus cardiaca. With its pink labiate flowers, this plant looks great in any ornamental garden. However, she has much more to offer than just beauty.
Motherwort’s Dutch name hartgespan means as much as heart strain. It reveals to us what we can use it for: the heart. Leonurus cardiaca calms the heart and strengthens heart function. But she can do much more. She helps against nervousness and anxiety. Since ancient times, motherwort has been used during childbirth to strengthen contractions and to help the delivery to get going. Hence, the name in English. And that’s not all. You will find out much more in this monograph.
The main magical properties of motherwort have much in common with its medicinal properties. She can be used for magic that aims to strengthen something or someone. Her association with the king of animals, the lion, might therefore not only be related to the shape of this plant. She gives lion’s courage to all who need it.
Motherwort is a strong plant that easily grows to a metre high, sometimes even one and a half metres. It stands on a strong rhizome with square, hollow, hairy stems on top. The stems are purple in colour, erect and leafed from top to bottom. The plant is strongly branched.
The leaves are arranged decussately. They are hairy, dark green on top and greyish at the bottom. The shape of the leaves differs depending on their position on the plant. At the bottom of the plant, the leaves are palmatifid with 5 to 7 lobes. At the top they are tripinnatifid and elongated.
The labiate flowers are light pink to pink and are arranged in false whorls around the middle and upper part of the stem. The flower is two-lipped—with a short lower lip—and hairy. After flowering a four-chambered schizocarp appears containing 4 achenes.
Motherwort is popular with bees and bumblebees. Another reason to include her in your garden.
Siberian motherwort, Leonurus sibericus, also has healing powers. Cardiaca, however, is more powerful.
You can dye textiles with this plant, in an olive green colour.
According to an ancient Chinese legend, motherwort can ensure you’ll live to an extremely high age.
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