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Intro to Motherwort, Leonurus Cardiaca

Motherwort, aka Leonurus Cardiaca, is one of our culture’s most essential herbs. Why, amid so many other beautiful plants we herbalists utterly adore, would we choose Motherwort to top our list of essential herbs for the modern world?

Motherwort’s good for Stress-related Complaints

Anxiety, Tachycardia (Racing Heart), Depression, High Blood Pressure (and Low Blood Pressure), Heart Disease, Hormonal Imbalances, Heart Palpitations, A variety of garden-variety Menstural problems including the more varieties, PMS and early Perimenopause…Stress!

Motherwort helps mitigate and ease them all. Even better, Motherwort’s easy to grow, generally abundant, and an inexpensive herb to procure commercially. Oh, and did I mention there are very few cautions associated with this mint family herb? In the stressful world we’re currently navigating, Motherwort is an essential friend to darn near everyone.

Where does Motherwort Grow?

Like so many of the Mint family, Motherwort grows wild in a variety of environments. It’s natural habitat is the marginal and disturbed areas. Originally native to Southeastern Europe and Central Asia, Motherwort has been introduced worldwide. It thrives in a wide range of climates, able to withstand the frosty northern landscapes of Canada and the Northern USA and just as comfortable in the hot and temperate zones as far south as Southern California and the Southern USA. South of the Equator, Motherwort’s been happy to set roots across Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and South America as well.

So, I planted some Motherwort…

If you’ve got a well-contained area, planting a plot of Motherwort in your garden can be a wonderful way to grow your own anti-stress and anti-anxiety tea. While it may not be quite as hard to contain as it’s cousins spearmint and peppermint, Motherwort is considered an invasive in many areas because it grows so readily in rocky, poor soils and tolerates a fair amount of drought once it’s established.

Long ago, Motherwort escaped cultivation, much to the consternation of a whole lot of native-plant purists who also detest such useful and important medicinal herbs as Dandelion, Blackberry, and Plantain. If you do plant it, plan to use it and keep your patch quite under control.

Growing Motherwort

With that said, Motherwort is a wonderful partner in the modern herb garden. It’ll love you if you set it in a sunny spot or light dappled shade and give it a slightly richer soil than the poor conditions you’ll find in the rocky, waste areas it’s found in the wild.

Set alongside nervines like Skullcap and Tulsi, stomach calmatives like Chamomile, and heart-support herbs like Agrimony and Hawthorn, Motherwort offers a nervous system soothing bitter that helps calm the heart and gently activates the liver. It can grow up to 7 feet (2m), potentially making a thick hedgerow or a slightly weedy green backdrop filled with tiny pink flowers the pollinators in your area will love.

Motherwort grows well from seed or root divisions. It’s a hardy perennial, most often suggested for Zones 3-8, that’ll self-seed to sustain itself once established. Sow starts early in spring and plant them out after the last frost in your area.

For the first year, keep your Motherwort seedlings well-watered and topped with fertile compost. Once established, a nip of compost in the spring and fall will help keep your patch growing strong…just be careful not to let it escape unless you want to be pulling Motherwort from neighboring bed like weeds!

I Harvested Motherwort…Now what?

You can use Motherwort in a fresh garden tea blend. Mix the freshly plucked tops with Spearmint, Tulsi, Chamomile, or your favorite calming aromatics in a pot of hot water for a wonderful warm infusion or let them infuse more slowly into a pitcher of cold water for a refreshing cool drink.

Motherwort dries well, too. Dried Motherwort offers a wonderful bitter quality to hot and cold infusions. You can tincture motherwort from fresh or dried leaves, too.

Learn more about using Motherwort in our Upcoming Herb of the Month Articles on Motherwort.

Resources

Candace Hunter

Candace Hunter is a self-taught herbalist and artist who never, ever practices on guinea pigs in part because her family and friends are generally up to the job. She is co-author of The Practical Herbalist's Herbal Folio series and author of Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse. She edits The Practical Herbalist website and Practical Herbalist Press publications. She has also recently entered into the field of podcasting with reckless abandon. Listen to her on Real Herbalism Radio today, see her work at CandaceHunter.com, or find her on Facebook at Candace Hunter Creations.


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