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How About Horehound?

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

For an interesting contrast to your other herbs try growing horehound (Marrubium vulgare). It is a somewhat sprawling perennial growing to just under two feet tall. The wrinkled blue-green leaves grow in opposite pairs on square stems. Some say horehound resembles mint, but frankly one touch of the crinkled, hairy leaves and you�ll know they are not mint.

Horehound is ideal for Texas gardens. It prefers dry, sunny conditions and neutral to alkaline soil. Don�t plant it where the soil gets soggy because a wet location will rot the roots. Whorls of prickly white flowers appear along the upper part of the stems in late spring, eventually producing small brown seeds. The dried flowers tend to cling to anything they touch. Clip these off as soon as they appear unless you don�t mind the seed heads hitchhiking on clothes and animal fur later in the season.

Horehound is symbolic of good health and has always been used to combat illness. Herbalists sometimes recommend horehound tea to combat a cold or phlegm in the lungs. It is especially beneficial as a cough suppressant and expectorant. Not so long ago, horehound candy made from the herb�s juice could be found in any drugstore.

In older herbal books you will sometimes find this herb called white horehound to distinguish it from black horehound (Ballota nigra). Black horehound, which is rarely sold in the U. S., has an unpleasant smell, lavender colored flowers, and black seeds.