(Leonurus Cardiaca) Mint family.
Flowers - Dull purple pink, pale purple, or white, small,
clustered in axils of upper leaves. Calyx tubular, bell-shaped,
with 5 rigid awl-like teeth; corolla 2-lipped, upper lip arched,
woolly without; lower lip 3-lobed, spreading, mottled; the tube
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
grandmothers, in Revolutionary days, enjoyed pulling it to vent
their animosity against the British.
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