OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312



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Horehound in early sources

 Description      Propagation      Cultivation        Harvest

Scientific name

Marrubium vulgare
Marrubium is probably derived from the Hebrew marrob, bitter juice; horehound is one of the bitter herbs eaten during Passover. Vulgare means "common."
Common names, modern

White horehound, common horehound, marrube, houndsbane, marvel

Hore means white, as in "hoar frost." Hune is the Old English name for Ballota nigra, Black horehound; so we have Hune (Black horehound) and Harehune (White horehound).



Cold hardiness Hardy zones 4-9
Size 18-24" high by 20" wide

Bushy subshrub


Flowers appear in axels of leaves as dense whorls of white, prickly, inch-wide globes, several to a stem. Seeds are carried in burrs that hitch a ride on passing hosts.

Marrubium vulgare, Eugene ZelFoliage

Thick, deeply wrinkled green leaves are oval to heart-shaped, with scalloped edges covered with wooly white down. The entire plant has a brisk, medicinal scent, especially when rubbed.


Comment An attractive, sturdy plant, horehound contains marrubiin, a bitter-tasting expectorant that is used in cough drops and cough syrup. Horehound is also used to make beer in Norfolk in the UK.
By seed Easy to grow from seed gathered in fall. To start plants inside, stratify (cold, moist) seed for 6-8 weeks before planting. Can also be sown outside in fall where it is to grow.  Or simply watch for volunteer plants in the spring, and relocate them as they appear, for they transplant well when small.
  Germination temperature For best germination inside, start cooler at night, about 64o, with warmer temps of about 79o during the day
  Germination time 1-3 weeks; grow on in 4" deep pot, as seedlings have long roots
  Moisture Keep moist but not soggy to germinate seed
  Light Barely cover seed


Soil Prefers alkaline, calcareous soils, but does well in most soils
  Moisture Drought tolerant; must have good drainage
  Light Full sun to light shade
  Natural habitat Disturbed ground, dry soils; in US, it has naturalized on dry upland soils in sunny or lightly shaded locations. In dry, arid climates, such as some parts of southwestern US and southeastern Australia, horehound has become highly invasive; in regions with more rainfall, this is rare.
  Vigor Once established is long lived
  Pests, diseases  Nothing significant
  Season to bloom/bear Flowers in early spring; will self-seed, and seed survives in the soil for as long as 7 years.
  Seed collection In the early fall



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