Leonurus cardiaca, known as motherwort,[2] is an herbaceous perennial plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Other common names include throw-wort, lion's ear, and lion's tail. Lion's tail is also a common name for Leonotis leonurus, and lion's ear, a common name for Leonotis nepetifolia. Originally from Central Asia and southeastern Europe, it is now found worldwide, spread largely due to its use as a herbal remedy.

Leonurus cardiaca
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Leonurus
L. cardiaca
Binomial name
Leonurus cardiaca



Leonurus cardiaca has a squarish stem which is clad in short hairs and is often purplish, especially near the nodes. The opposite leaves have serrated margins and are palmately lobed with long petioles; basal leaves are wedge shaped with three points while the upper leaves have three to five. They are slightly hairy above and greyish beneath. Flowers appear in leaf axils on the upper part of the plant and have three-lobed bracts. The calyx of each flower is bell-shaped and has five lobes. The corolla is irregular, 8 to 12 mm (0.3 to 0.5 in) long, fused, long-tubed with two lips. The upper lip is convex and covered with white hairs and the lower lip is three-lobed and downward-curving and spotted with red. The flowers are pink to lilac in colour often with furry lower lips. There are four protruding stamens, two short and two longer, and the fruit is a four-chambered schizocarp. The plant grows to about 60 to 100 cm (24 to 39 in) in height and blooms in mid to late summer.[3]

Distribution and habitat


Motherwort is probably native to the southeastern part of Europe and central Asia where it has been cultivated since ancient times. Its natural habitat is beside roadsides, in vacant fields, waste ground, rubbish dumps and other disturbed areas. This plant prefers well drained soil and a partly shady location. Introduced to North America as a bee foraging plant and to attract bumble bees, this perennial herb is now considered invasive. It is hardy in USDA climate zones 4–8.[4]



Nicholas Culpeper considered motherwort useful for removing melancholy vapors from the heart, improving cheerfulness, and settling the wombs of mothers.[5] In 15th century Europe, motherwort was considered by some herbalists to protect against evil spirits.[6]


Chemical structure of stachydrine

The herb contains the alkaloid leonurine.[7] Among other chemical constituents, it also contains stachydrine,[8] bitter iridoid glycosides (leonuride), diterpenoids, flavonoids (including rutin and quercetin), tannins, volatile oils, and vitamin A. Stachydrine is extracted from the leaves of Motherwort and has demonstrated various bioactivities for the treatment of fibrosis, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, uterine diseases, brain injuries, and inflammation.[9]


  1. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1753). Species Plantarum. Vol. 2. Stockholm: Lars Salvius. p. 584.
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ "Motherwort: Leonurus cardiaca". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
  4. ^ Leonurus cardiaca L. Common motherwort. NRCS PLANTS database. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  5. ^ Culpeper, Nicholas (1814). Culpeper's Complete Herbal. No. 8, White's Row, Spitalfields: Richard Evans. p. 121.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  6. ^ Grieve, Maude (1971). A Modern Herbal Vol. II. New York: Dover Publications. p. 556.
  7. ^ Kuhn, Merrily A.; Winston, David (2000). Herbal therapy supplements: a scientific traditional approach. Philadelphia: Lippincott. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-7817-2643-6.
  8. ^ Kuchta, K.; Volk, R.B.; Rauwald, H.W. (2013). "Stachydrine in Leonurus cardiaca, Leonurus japonicus, Leonotis leonurus: Detection and quantification by instrumental HPTLC and 1H-qNMR analyses". Die Pharmazie. 68 (7): 534–40. PMID 23923634.
  9. ^ Cheng, F.; Zhou, Y.; Wang, M.; Guo, C.; Cao, Z.; Zhang, R.; Peng, C. (2020). "A review of pharmacological and pharmacokinetic properties of stachydrine". Pharmacological Research. 155: 104755. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2020.104755. PMID 32173585. S2CID 212730377.

Further reading