Long after the old farm house and the. barns and outbuildings disappear, the evidences of man's presence remain to tell of the past. The lilac bush beside the old stone slab which was a doorstep is still there. The star-of-bethlehem bulbs send up bright green leaves and white flowers every spring. And certain weeds come up every year in the enriched soil of the old barnyard. There are mayweed and jimson weed and tansy, and the rough spikes of motherwort or lion's tail.


Leonurus cardiaca L.

June - July Waste places, farms, woods.

Lion's tail is a more appropriate name, perhaps, than the uncertain motherwort, chiefly because the Latin name of Leonurus literally means lion's tail. The motherwort is an Old World plant which traveled in the devious manner of so many European weeds from their home base to a new land. Although it is known as a somewhat unpleasant weed because of the skin irritation which contact with its leaves and stems may cause in some people, the motherwort has a degree of beauty which is immediately noticeable.

Here are the ridged, four-angled stems, many-branched and all in bloom. The flowers are arranged in tight, spiny clusters around the stem, actually in the axils of the leaves but appealing in a wreath around the stem from top to near the base of the plant. The flowers are small but clear pink, white, or lavender, or a mixture of all three. The fuzzy little flowers are constructed in the typical Mint family manner.

The leaves are opposite on the stem, but each pair is set alternately with the pair above and below so that all get the sun and the spreading leaves make a four-sided formation when viewed from above.