Encyclopedia Article

Motherwort                           Leonurus cardiaca L.

Family:  Lamiaceae (mint family)
Life cycle:   Perennial, reproducing by seed and short rhizomes
Native status:  Introduced
Habitat:  Disturbed areas, especially common in urban areas

General description:  Erect plant reaching heights of 4-5 ft.  Leaves are opposite, palmately 3-5 lobed (resembling a maple leaf), coarsely serrate margins.  Leaves become narrower in upper canopy, typically with 3 lobes.  Prominent, deep veins.  White to purple flowers produced in leaf axils of terminal stems.

Key ID traits:   Palmately lobed leaves (resembling maple leaves) with deep veins.  Plant has square stems, a trait of the mint family.

Miscellaneous:  Motherwort was brought to North America due to its medicinal properties.  Botanical name derived from its use for heart problems.  Still sold in health stores for these properties.

Motherwort begins growth in spring as a tight cluster of deeply lobed leaves with deep veins.

flower spike with three-lobed leaves emerging from axils
Flower spike with three-lobed leaves emerging from axils.