Weed of the Month: March 2014

HOREHOUND

(Marrubium vulgare)

  

(Photos: http://rurification.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/horehound-candy.html , http://www.herbosophy.com.au/horehound-marrubium-vulgare/, http://kaweahoaks.com/html/horehound.html  )

This plant is originally from temperate climate areas such as Eurasia and Europe. It is now a weed of pastures, and apparently affects the flavour of meat from grazing animals forced to feed on it, since it contains a bitter alkaloid. Maybe this same alkaloid is the reason it was used in some beers and cordials? The plant also invades areas of disturbed native vegetation. Horehound grows to about 60+ cm high, with stems that are four-sided.  Grey-green on top, whiter underneath, the oval-shaped leaves of horehound sit opposite each other on these stems; they look woolly, and really crinkly, with lots of deep veins. The edges of the leaves are quite scalloped. The flower heads form dense groups around the stems, near where the leaves come off.  If you have ever worn cloth garden gloves when removing these flower heads, you’d know how clingy the fruit or burrs are…not a good idea! No wonder they get carried easily by animals in their fur.

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