Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Lamiales
Family Lamiaceae
Genus Leonurus
Species L. cardiaca
Binomial name Leonurus cardiaca

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the herb motherwort are lion's tail, lion's ear, lion's tart and throwwart.


Motherwort originated from central Eurasia and spread to all temperate areas of the world, primarily as a garden plant but also as an escaped weed. The name of the genus, Leonurus, in Greek signifies a Lion's tail, from some fancied resemblance in the plant. As the name implies, motherwort was used by the people as a folk remedy for female reproductive disorders. It was also used for certain types of heart conditions, as the Latin word cardiaca indicates. Today, it is recommended by herbalists and Commission E for heart palpitations occurring with anxiety attacks or other nervous disorders.

The Chinese name for motherwort is yi mu cao, meaning "benefit mother herb." The leaves and flowers of this mint family plant are used as medicine. In Chinese herbal medicine, the seeds are also employed. It is a member of the Dead-nettle family. The ancient Greeks and Romans honored it for a remedy for both physical and emotional heart troubles. "Motherwort is especially valuable in female weakness and disorders (hence the name), allaying nervous irritability and inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system.


It is a perennial plant where the stem arises from the root stock and grows upto 2 to 3 feet high, erect and branched, principally below, the angles prominent and they are purplish in colour.The leaves, are deeply and palmately cut into five loves, or three-pointed segments, and by the prickly calyx-teeth of its flowers. They are reticulately veined, the veinlets prominent beneath, with slender, curved hairs. The uppermost leaves and bracts are very narrow and entire, or only with a tooth on each side, and bear in their axils numerous whorls of pinkish, or nearly white, sessile flowers, six to fifteen in a whorl.

The motherwort flowers normally blossom in clusters or groups. Calyx is tubular, bell-shaped, with 5 rigid teeth. The corollas, though whitish on the outside, are stained with paler or darker purple within. They have rather short tubes and nearly flat upper lips, very hairy above, with long, woolly hairs. The two front stamens are the longest and the anthers are sprinkled with hard, shining dots. The plant has a pungent odour and a very bitter taste.


Motherwort a native of many parts of Europe is the only British representative of the genus Leonurus.But later the plant has acclimatized itself to the different conditions all over North America. Presently, motherwort is found in the terrain ranging from Nova Scotia to Montreal and southern parts of North America to Texas and North Carolina.


Motherwort prefers to be grown untamed in the wild forests, open areas as well as on the pavements. It finds itself comfortable on roadside verges and waste ground near dwellings, on banks and under hedges especially in a gravelly or calcareous soil. Motherwort is also cultivated as a garden plant and is harvested during the summer when the plant blossoms. Thus the plant thrives best in vacant plots and other wastelands.


Motherwort is perfectly hardy herb and needs no special soil, and the roots will continue for many years. When they are once planted in a garden will soon increase if the seeds are permitted to scatter. General condition is that seedlings should be planted about a foot apart. It requires a gravelly or calcareous soil for best growth. Motherwort is also cultivated as a garden plant and is harvested during the summer when the plant blossoms.

Flowering Season

The motherwort flowers normally blossom in clusters or groups in the months of June to September.

Pests and Diseases

The herb motherwort is very rarely said to be affected by pests and diseases.

Parts Used

The whole herb is of medicinal and commercial use but however the aerial parts of the plant and the seeds are generally used.

Medicinal Applications


• It regulates circulatory disturbances during the menopause, such as palpitations and general heart and circulation treatments.

• It regulates menstruation, encouraging the monthly flow when it is scanty, and eases painful periods and also takes care of uterine conditions.

• Motherwort has been used to treat palpitations and rapid heart beat, especially when associated with anxiety.

• Motherwort is especially valuable in female weakness and disorders, allaying nervous irritability and inducing quiet and passivity of the whole nervous system.

• It may be used in all heart conditions that are associated with anxiety and tension.

• The herb is exceptionally useful in treating painful, belated or suppressed menstrual cycles and also provides relief during child birth.

• The herb is also known to have properties that can prevent miscarriage and alleviate false labor pains.

• It is recommended to treat anomalies like arrhythmias and also heart palpitations thus helping to reduce blood pressure.

• It functions as a sedative and anti-spasmodic that helps in controlling the heart.

• It is used to cure several reproductive system disorders like irregular menstruation cycles, pre-menstrual pain, and treating infertility as also curing the stock-still abdominal masses.

• Dilute the motherwort decoction and use it as eyewash to treat conjunctivitis or aching and tired eyes.

• Externally, the herb may also be used as douche.


Motherwort is influenced by the herb Venus and claims to be under the zodiac sign Leo.

Quotes from Scriptures

Old writers like Grieve tell us that there is not better herb for strengthening the heart." In Macer's Herbal we find 'Motherwort' mentioned as one of the herbs which were considered all-powerful against 'wykked sperytis.

'Culpepper says there is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry.

Gerard says divers commend it against infirmities of the heart. Moreover the same is commended for green wounds; it is also a remedy against certain diseases in cattell, as the cough and murreine, and for that cause divers husbandmen oftentimes much desire it.'

Chinese research referred to in Potters Cyclopedia found that it both reduced blood platelet aggregation and decreased levels of blood lipids.

Symbolism and Religious Influence


The leaves of motherwort are hairy and have an unkempt and disheveled look and often resembles the tail of a lion and owing to the leaves' appearance to the lion's tail, the herb is also known by other common nicknames like lion's ear, lion's tart and lion's tail.

Folklores and Myths

Motherwort is a Protective herb and is said to aid women and children, both medically and magically, and to bring Peace to the Home. For the protection of the family and to have peace in the home, folks tell to brew the herb into a tea, strain it, and put the liquid into the bath or in the rinse water when laundering the family's socks or underwear. Others tell that they keep a packet of motherwort hidden with their family photos for blessing and protection of those who are dear to them.