Leonurus sibiricus (Siberian Motherwort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Honeyweed, Marihuanilla, Little Marijuana
Genus:Leonurus
Family:Lamiaceae (Mint)
Life cycle:annual, biennial
Origin:Asia
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; sandy or rocky soil; fields, roadsides, pine forest
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:8 to 32 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Clusters of stalkless flowers surround the stem at the leaf nodes in the upper part of the plant. Individual flowers are pink to reddish purple, sometimes white, tubular, about ½ to ¾ inch long. The upper lip extends out, its outer surface densely covered in short, white hairs, the lower lip is a notched at the tip. Purple-tipped stamens and a white style arch along the inside of the upper lip. The calyx is tubular with sharply pointed, triangular lobes at the tip that are slightly flaring.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are deeply divided into 3 lobes, which may be further divided with short, narrow lobes or a few small teeth around the edge. Lower leaves are up to 6 inches long, long-stalked, and more broadly lobed than upper leaves, but wither away early. Leaves become progressively smaller with narrower lobes and shorter stalks as they ascend the stem. Upper leaves are about 2 inches long and 1½ inches wide. Surfaces are sparsely short-hairy, the underside glandular. Stems are erect, square, and covered in appressed hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The calyx persists and holds 4 1-seeded nutlets.

Notes:

This is the other motherwort species found in Minnesota and is easily distinguished from the more widespread Common Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), which has variable shaped leaves that are not finely divided and has flowers with dense, long hairs on the upper lip. Siberian Motherwort is a herbal intoxicant used in ancient Chinese medicine for its relaxant properties, also called marihuanilla (little marijuana) throughout Central America and Mexico. Of note it was described as the personal “little helper” of Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda's; “The teachings of Don Juan”. The Erowid Experience Vault, however, claims it to be “worthless”. It's been collected in Minnesota only twice - once near New Ulm in 1974, and then I collected a specimen from this population on the south side of Hastings in 2004. It does not appear to have the invasive propensity of L. cardiaca. You might assume from the images that once established it would generate a seed load that would persist and spread, but I've driven by the spot 100 times since then and have never seen it again - and it really stands out!

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken outside Hastings, Dakota County.

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