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Marrubium vulgare
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Marrubium
Species: M. vulgare
Binomial name
Marrubium vulgare

Marrubium vulgare (White Horehound or Common Horehound) is a flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, native to Europe, northern Africa and Asia.

It is a gray-leaved herbaceous perennial plant, somewhat resembling mint in appearance, which grows to 25-45 cm tall. The leaves are 2-5 cm long with a densely crinkled surface, and are covered in downy hairs. The flowers are white, borne in clusters on the upper part of the main stem.


Botanical description

Horehound is a bushy herb, producing numerous annual, quadrangular and branching stems, a foot or more in height. On these, small whitish flowers are borne in crowded axillary whorls.

The leaves are opposite, wrinkled, petiolate, and about 1 inch long. They are covered with white, felted hairs, which give them a woolly appearance. White horehound is distinguished from other species by its ten-toothed calyx.

Horehound flowers from June to September.


Wild horehound

Like many other plants of the Lamiaceae family, it flourishes in waste places and by roadsides. It is also cultivated in cottage gardens for use in medicinal teas and candies. It is brewed and made into horehound ale.


White horehound is a hardy plant, easily grown, and flourishes best in a dry, poor soil. It can be propagated from seeds sown in spring, cuttings, or by dividing the roots (the most usual method).

If raised from seed, the seedlings should be planted out in the Spring, in rows, with a space of about 9 inches or more between each plant. No further culture will be needed than weeding. It does not blossom until it is two years old.

Horehound is also considered a companion plant, reputed to encourage the fruit production of tomato plants, as well as bestowing the usual mint benefits.

Until recently, it was chiefly collected in Southern France, where it is much cultivated.

Historical background

The Romans esteemed horehound for its medicinal properties, and its Latin name of Marrubium is said to be derived from Maria urbs, an ancient town of Italy. Other authors derive its name from the Hebrew marrob (a bitter juice), and state that it was one of the bitter herbs which the Jews were ordered to take for the Feast of Passover.

Egyptian Priests called this plant the 'Seed of Horus,' or the 'Bull's Blood,' and the 'Eye of the Star.' It was a principal ingredient in the Caesar's antidote for vegetable poisons. Gerard recommends it, in addition to its uses in coughs and colds, to 'those that have drunk poison or have been bitten of serpents,' and it was also administered for 'mad dogge's biting.' It was once regarded as an anti-magical herb.

According to Columella:

Horehound is a serviceable remedy against Cankerworm in trees, and it is stated that if it be put into new milk and set in a place pestered with flies, it will speedily kill them all.


The chief constituent is a bitter principle known as marrubin, with a little volatile oil, resin, tannin, wax, fat, sugar, and other compounds.

Medicinal uses

The leaves and young shoots are harvested for medicinal preparations. The flavor of such preparations can perhaps best be described as an almost berry-flavored rootbeer. Horehound is used as a flavoring in stick candy, and candy "drops" (used as throat lozenges).


Historical accounts

White horehound has long been noted for its efficacy in lung troubles and coughs. The British herbalist Gerard says of this plant

Syrup made of the greene fresh leaves and sugar is a most singular remedie against the cough and wheezing of the lungs . . . and doth wonderfully and above credit ease such as have been long sicke of any consumption of the lungs, as hath beene often proved by the learned physitions of our London College.

Physician and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper adds:

'It helpeth to expectorate tough phlegm from the chest, being taken with the roots of Irris or Orris.... There is a syrup made of this plant which I would recommend as an excellent help to evacuate tough phlegm and cold rheum from the lungs of aged persons, especially those who are asthmatic and short winded.'

For cough

Preparations of horehound are still largely used as expectorants and tonics. It may, indeed, be considered one of the most popular pectoral remedies, being given with benefit for chronic cough, asthma, and some cases of consumption.

For children's cough and croup, it is given to advantage in the form of syrup. It is also useful as a tonic and a corrective of the stomach.

As vermifuge and purgative

Taken in large doses, it acts as a gentle purgative.

The powdered leaves have also been employed as a vermifuge and the green leaves, bruised and boiled in lard, are made into an ointment which is good for wounds.

For common cold

For ordinary cold, a simple infusion of horehound (horehound tea) is generally sufficient in itself. The tea may be made by pouring boiling water on the fresh or dried leaves, 1 oz. of herb per pint. A wineglassful may be taken three or four times a day. Two or three teaspoonsful of the expressed juice of the herb may also be given as a dose in severe colds.

In combination

Horehound is sometimes combined with hyssop, rue, liquorice root and marshmallow root, 1/2 oz. of each boiled in 2 pints of water, to 1 1/2 pint, strained and given in 1/2 teacupful doses, every two to three hours.

As candy

Horehound for candy is best made from the fresh plant by boiling it down until the juice is extracted, then adding sugar before boiling again, until it becomes thick enough in consistency to pour into a paper case to be cut into squares when cool.

Making candy from horehound is discussed in the 1921 book Apell's Up-to-Date Candy Teacher by Charles Apell.[1]

As an invasive weed

Horehound was introduced to southern Australia in the 19th century as a medicinal herb. It became a weed of native grasslands and pastures where it was introduced with settlers’ livestock, and was first declared under noxious weeds legislation. It now appears to have reached its full potential distribution.

It occupies disturbed or overgrazed ground, and is favoured by grazing because it is highly unpalatable to livestock. It may persist in native vegetation that has been grazed.

As biocontrol

Marrubium vulgare is also used as a natural grasshopper repellent in agriculture.



  1. ^ Apell's Up-to-Date Candy Teacher, Charles Apell, 1921.
  • Everist, D.L. (1981) Poisonous Plants of Australia. 3rd edn (Angus & Robertson: Sydney). ISBN 0 207 14228 9
  • Parsons, W. & Cuthbertson, E. (2001) Noxious Weeds of Australia. 2nd edn (CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood). ISBN 0 643 06514 8
  • Jepson Manual Treatment


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Marrubium vulgare3.jpg


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids I
Ordo: Lamiales
Familia: Lamiaceae
Subfamilia: Lamioideae
Genus: Marrubium
Species: Marrubium vulgare


Marrubium vulgare L.


  • Species Plantarum 2:583. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]

Vernacular names

Русский: Шандра обыкновенная
Türkçe: Köpek otu


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