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Botanical name: Leonurus heterophyllus
Common name: Leonuras fruit
Literal name translation: splendid profusion seeds
Family: Labiatae, mint family
Part used in Chinese medicine: seeds
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Invigorates blood, regulates menstruation,
clears Liver, brightens eyes
Leonuras heterophyllus, or Chinese motherwort, is an annual or biennial growing throughout China in most every province and in a wide variety of environments. It has been found in low grasslands, and as high as 10,000 feet elevation. The botanical name Leonuris heterophyllus is a synonym for Leonuras artemisia, so either name may be used. Both Chinese motherwort and the common European motherwort (Leonuras cardiaca) have been used for many centuries for similar medicinal purposes, particularly for gynecology and circulatory problems. The genus name, Leonuris, comes from the Latin words “leon” (lion) and “oura” (tail), referring to a comparison of the tall flower stalks to a lion’s tail.
The plant grows to 2-3 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide. It is easy to grow in average to poor garden soil, with minimal water, and prefers full sun but will do fine in part shade. It thrives best in rich, warm, moist loamy soil. Many white to pinkish-purple flowers bloom in July through September on single flower stalks, though in very warm climates it will flower in April through May and complete its life cycle before the peak of hot weather occurs. Seeds generally ripen from August to September.
For propagation, seed is harvested from plants in mid-autumn after seed has ripened. Plants are easy to grow and will sometimes self-sow if left to go to seed in the garden. Plant seeds about 1/2 inch deep directly in the ground in early spring and they will germinate in about 10-15 days.
Seeds should be harvested in the fall when ripe. For medicinal use, good quality Chong Wei Zi are large, full seeds. The leaves of the plant (Yi Mu Cao) are also used in Chinese medicine.