MINT FAMILY - Labiatae: Motherwort
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 with oblique 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.
Distribution--Nova Scotia southward to North Carolina, west to Minnesota and Nebraska. Naturalized from Europe and Asia.
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.