Horehound
Marrubium vulgare L.
Family: Lamiaceae, Mint
Genus: Marrubium
Synonyms:
Other names: white hoarhound
Nomenclature: vulgare = common, ordinary
Nativity / Invasiveness: introduced plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: plant height: 30-100 cm tall. Growth habit: perennial from a stout taproot, nearly trailing to almost erect. Stems: generally several, conspicuously white-woolly.

Leaves: basal lacking, stem leaves opposite, gray-woolly-hairy or partly almost hairless, wrinkled, not much reduced upward, stalked. Blades 20-55 mm long and often nearly or quite as wide, broadly elliptic to round-ovate or nearly fan-shaped, evidently blunt-toothed.

Flowers: whitish, about 6 mm long, with 2 almost equal lips, the upper lip erect and narrowly 2-lobed, the lower one spreading and with broadly rounded central lobe. Many flowers in compact, separate whorls. Calyx with short star-shaped hairs and often also more or less long-hairy, with a ring of projecting long hairs within the throat. Calyx tube 4-5 mm long, the 10 narrow, firm teeth somewhat shorter, widely spreading, with backward-curved spines on tips. June-October.

Fruits: 4 small nutlets.


Distribution

A casual weed along roadsides and in other disturbed habitats, in w. and s. parts of MT. Native of Europe, now wide-spread elsewhere in the world.
Edible Uses

The leaves of horehound can be used as a seasoning. Bitter and pungent, they are sometimes used to flavor herb beer or liqueurs. Horehound ale is a fairly well-known drink made from the leaves. A mild pleasantly flavored tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves, among some it is a favorite cough remedy.



Medicinal Uses

White horehound is a well-known and popular herbal medicine that is often used as a domestic remedy for coughs, colds, wheeziness etc. The herb apparently causes the secretion of a more fluid mucous, readily cleared by coughing. The leaves and young flowering stems are antiseptic, antispasmodic, and has agents that increase bile flow to the intestines, induce sweating, promote digestion, induce urination, promote or assist the flow of menstrual fluid, that strongly induce the removal (coughing up) of mucous secretions from the lungs, promote the well-being of the liver and increases the secretion of bile, and are stimulant and tonic. The Cahuilla Indians used a tea of the whole plant for flushing the kidneys. The Cherokees took the herb for hoarseness, colds and mixed it with sugar to make cough syrup. The Costanoan Indians used a decoction of leaves for whooping cough. The Isleta Indians made a poultice of crushed leaves used for swellings. Horehound is a very valuable herb that can be safely used by children as well as adults. It is often made into a syrup or candy in order to disguise its very bitter flavor, though it can also be taken as a tea. As a bitter tonic, it increases the appetite and supports the function of the stomach. It can also act to normalize heart rhythm. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and can be used fresh or dried. The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Plantago lanceolata or P. major.


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