Motherwort – Flowers

(Leonurus Cardiaca) Mint family.

Flowers—Dull purple pink, pale purple, or white, small, clustered in axils of upper leaves. Calyx tubular, bellshaped, with 5 rigid awllike teeth ; corolla 2-lipped, upper lip arched, woolly without ; lower lip 3-lobed, spreading, mottled ; the tube with oblique ring of hairs inside. Four twin-like stamens, anterior pair longer, reaching under upper lip ; style 2-cleft at summit. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. tall, straight, branched, leafy, purplish. Leaves : Opposite, on slender petioles ; lower ones rounded, 2 to 4 in. broad, palmately cut into 2 to 5 lobes ; upper leaves narrower, 3-cleft or 3-toothed.

Preferred Habitat—Waste places near dwellings.

Flowering Season—June—September.

Distribution—Nova Scotia southward to North Carolina, west to Minnesota and Nebraska. Naturalized from Europe and Asia.

” One is tempted to say that the most human plants, after all, are the weeds,” says John Burroughs. ” How they cling to man and follow him around the world, and spring up wherever he sets foot ! How they crowd around his barns and dwellings, and throng his garden, and jostle and override each other in their strife to be near him ! Some of them are so domestic and familiar, and so harmless withal, that one comes to regard them with positive affection. Motherwort, catnip, plantain, tansy, wild mustard—what a homely, human look they have ! They are an integral part of every old homestead. Your smart, new place will wait long before they draw near it.”

How the bees love this generous, old-fashioned entertainer ! One nearly always sees them clinging to the close whorls of flowers that are strung along the stem, and of course. transferring pollen, in recompense, as they journey on. A more credulous generation imported the plant for its alleged healing virtues. What is the significance of its Greek name, meaning a lion’s tail? Let no one suggest, by a far-stretched metaphor, that our grand-mothers, in Revolutionary days, enjoyed pulling it to vent their animosity against the British.