Motherwort: Lionís ear


Photograph thanks to:

Copyright © 1995-2003 Henriette Kress.

Scientific Names: Leonurus cardiaca, Leonotis leonurus, Phlomis leonuris

Appearance: Motherwort has stiffly square stems and the plat sides normally concave leaving the corners slightly rigid.  The opposing leaves are deeply left, the uper three lobed, the lower usually five lobed, almost palmate.  The leaf formations are widely varied in our area.  The perennial grows from 1.5-3 feet with mixed lengths of stems and a scattering of basal leaves and short basal stems.  The flowers form clusters about the upper leaves and are usually white or pink.  In the fall the clusters may be a foot or more above the highest leaves in a segmented fashion.  Motherwort has a very slight scent if any at all.  The calyx tubes of the flowers are sharp and burr-like - strong enough to pierce the skin.


Habitat:  Motherwort is a naturalized plant and has no predictable habitat in the West, but normally is found near towns and farming areas between 4,000 and 8,000 feet.


Collecting:  The stems should be cut below the lowest green leaves and bundled, then bound a couple inches from the cut ends with rubberbands 1/8 inch wide.  If picked away from the roadside, it doesnít need to be washed.  Hang the motherwort from hooks or nails in a shaded area with adequate circulation and should be hung until the top and bottom are brittle-dry.  The flowering half should be chopped into half inch to one inch segments with rose shears of kitchen scissors.  The remaining half of the stems are stripped of leaves and the bare stems discarded.  Paper bags should not be used to store.  Storage should be in a cool, dark area.  


Medicinal Uses for Asthma:  Motherwort contains leonurine, and alkaloid with mild vasodilating effects.