Common Horehound - Marrubium vulgare

Habitat / Range
"Mesic to dry disturbed sites in the lowland and lower montane zones; frequent in C and S BC; introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]

"Marrubium vulgare is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to November, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil."[PFAF]

General: "Perennial herb from a stout taproot, white-woolly; stems ascending, 30-100 cm long, 4-angled, generally several; thyme-scented, cultivated for tea, flavouring." [IFBC-E-flora]
Leaves: "Opposite, round to broadly egg-shaped, 2-5.5 cm long, about as wide, bases lobed to round, tips blunt, green and wrinkled above, white-woolly below, margins blunt-toothed; lower long-, upper short-stalked; uppermost leaves not much reduced." [IFBC-E-flora]
Flowers: "Inflorescence of broad, many-flowered axillary clusters; corollas tubular, whitish, 8-15 mm long, slightly exserted from calyces, lips 2, about equal, the upper lip erect and narrowly 2-lobed, the lower lip spreading with broadly rounded central lobe; calyces star-shaped with ring of long hairs in throat, soft-hairy, the tube 4-5 mm long, the teeth 10, narrow, eventually widely spreading, sometimes unequal, tips spine-hooked." [IFBC-E-flora]
Fruits: "Nutlets, 4 clustered together, egg-shaped, smooth." [IFBC-E-flora]


Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"White horehound is a well-known and popular herbal medicine that is often used as a domestic remedy for coughs, colds, wheeziness etc[4, 254]." [PFAF] "Marrubium vulgare has long been favoured in both book and folk medicine as a remedy for sore throats, hoarseness, colds, coughs of all kinds, bronchitis and asthma, for which there are records from many parts of Britain and particularly Ireland." [MPFT] "The medicinal parts are the dried flowering branches, the fresh aerial parts of the flowering plant and the whole plant." [PDR]

Further Medicinal Uses

"Horehound has still more uses, one being as an application to wounds (Flück). In Africa, it is used for fevers, especially typhoid (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk); the Navajo, too, used it to reduce fever (Wyman & Harris). In Wales, the infusion of the chopped herb is used both externally and internally for eczema and shingles (Conway). Oedema is another condition to be remedied with this plant. A 16th century recipe from France reads: “pisser, neuf matins sur le marrube avant que le soleil l’ait touché; et à mesure que la plante mourra, le ventre se desenflera” (Sebillot) – but that is a simple transference charm. It is a counter-poison, too, or rather it was thought to be one. There are a number of authorities, though, who were sure of it, the Lacnunga for one, and the Anglo-Saxon Apuleius, and into the 14th century, too (Henslow). Perhaps the strangest use was in a sleeping draught, used in the Fen country. It was made of white horehound and rue, followed by a good dose of gin mixed with laudanum. It is quoted as being a last resort means of stopping a mother giving birth on 1 May (an unlucky day). It just put her to sleep for twenty-four hours (Porter. 1969)." [DPL Watts]

Select Indications

  • Anorexia (2; APA;BGB; KOM; PH2);
  • Arrhythmia (1; APA; BGB; CAN);
  • Asthma (f; APA; MAD; PHR; PH2);
  • Bronchosis (2; MAD; BGB; PHR; PH2);
  • Cancer (f; JLH);
  • Cancer, breast (f; JLH);
  • Cancer, gum (f; JLH);
  • Cancer, liver (f; JLH);
  • Cancer, spleen (f; JLH);
  • Cancer, uterus (f; JLH);
  • Catarrh (f; BGB; MAD; PHR; PH2);
  • Cholecystosis (2; MAD; PHR);
  • Cold (1; APA; DEM; FEL);
  • Constipation (1; APA; CAN; HHB; PHR; PH2);
  • Cough (2; BGB; FEL; PHR; WAM);
  • Cramp (f; CAN; MAD);
  • Dermatosis (f; MAD; PHR);
  • Diarrhea (f; PHR; PH2);
  • Dysmenorrhea (f; APA; MAD; PHR);
  • Dyspepsia (2; APA; KOM; PHR; PH2);
  • Fever (1; EFS; WAM);
  • Flu (f; DEM; KOM);
  • Gas (2; APA; BGB; EFS; KOM; PH2);
  • Hepatosis (2; MAD; PHR);
  • High Blood Pressure (1; APA; PNC);
  • Inflammation (f; JLH; PH2; PNC);
  • Jaundice (1; MAD; PHR; PH2);
  • Pertussis (1; BGB; MAD; PHR; PH2);
  • Respirosis (1; APA; BGB; PHR; PH2);
  • Sore Throat (1; APA; BGB; FAD);
  • Tuberculosis (f; APA; BGB; MAD; PHR; PH2);
  • Water Retention (1; EFS; WAM);
  • Worm (f; APA; FEL; HHB); [HMH Duke]
"Dosages (White Horehound) — 1.5 g/cup (HHB); 4–5 g herb (KOM); 2–3 tsp (3.4–5.1 g) herb; 1–2 g herb in tea 3 ×/day (APA; CAN); 1.5 g chopped herb/cup water several ×/day (WIC); 1–2 g powdered herb (PNC); 4 g powdered herb (MAD); 1 drachm herb (FEL); 2–4 oz herb tea or syrup (FEL); 2–4 ml herbal syrup (APA; PNC); 2–4 ml concentrated herb infusion (PNC); 2–6 tbsp fresh juice (KOM); 30–60 ml expressed herb juice (PHR); 2–4 ml liquid herbal extract (1:1 in 20% ethanol) 3 ×/day (CAN); 2–4 ml liquid herb extract (PNC)." [HMH Duke]


"The bitter ingredients act as a gastric juice stimulant; marrubinic acid acts as a choleretic. In animal experiments, a significant increase of bile secretion was observed after administration of marrubinic acid and its salt. The main active principles, essential oil, diterpene-amaroids, tannins and flavonoids indicate that the drug would probably stimulate gastric juice secretion." [PDR]

"HOH extracts are antihydroxytryptamine; EO is an expectorant, schistosomicidal, and vasodilator. Marrubiin is an antiarrhythmic, but in higher doses may reverse, becoming arrhythmogenic (CAN)." [HMH Duke]

Select Activites

  • Antiarrhythmic (1; APA; BGB; CAN);
  • Antiseptic (f; EFS; MAD);
  • Antitussive (1; APA; BGB);
  • Aperitif (1; APA; BGB; PH2);
  • Arrhythmogenic (1; APA; BGB; CAN);
  • Bitter (1; APA; CAN);
  • Cardioactive (1; BGB; CAN);
  • Choleretic (1; APA; BGB; HHB; KOM; PH2);
  • Diuretic (1; EFS; WAM);
  • Emmenagogue (f; APA; HHB; MAD);
  • Expectorant (1; APA; BGB; FEL; MAD; WAM);
  • Hypotensive (1; APA; PNC);
  • Laxative (1; APA; CAN; HHB; PHR; PH2);
  • Tonic (f; BGB; HHB; PNC); [HMH Duke]



"White horehound is an easily grown plant that succeeds in most well-drained soils[200], though it flourishes best in a poor dry soil[1, 4]. Another report says that the plant flourishes best where there is plenty of nitrogen in the soil[274]. It prefers neutral to alkaline soil conditions[238] and requires a warm sunny position if it is to do well[14]. Often grown in the herb garden and sometimes cultivated commercially as a medicinal herb[4, 61]. If the plant is cut back after flowering it will normally produce a second crop of leaves[238]. The fresh leaves have a pronounced musky smell, though this is lost once the plant is dried[245]. A good bee plant[1]. White horehound is a good companion plant for growing near tomatoes[24]. The tomatoes crop for a longer period and also produce a heavier crop[201]." [PFAF]

"The plant has been used as a cure for cankerworm in trees[238]. No more details are given but it is probably a strong infusion of the flowering shoots, or the essential oil, that is used[K]."[PFAF]

"The seed whorls can also be gathered and scattered in your yard at the end of winter when, the ground is damp. Chances are that some horehound will come up. Horehound plants need little care in the garden, for in the wild they do well in dry regions in even the poorest soils." [Nyerges]


" Seed - sow April/May or August/September in a cold frame. Germination can be slow and erratic[200]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the following spring[K]. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Division in spring[1]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring." [PFAF]



"Perennial herb. Stem: generally erect, generally branched, tomentose. Leaf: petioled to ± sessile; blade generally ovate to round, crenate or toothed. Inflorescence: head-like, in leaf axils. Flower: calyx 10-lobed in California, lobes spreading or recurved, sharp-pointed; corolla 2-lipped, upper lip entire to 2-lobed, lower lip 3-lobed; stamens 4, fertile, lower pair generally > upper pair, included in tube; style included, lobes ± equal. Fruit: nutlet tip truncate.
30 species: Europe. (Latin: from ancient Hebrew word for bitter juice) [Ryding 1998 Syst Bot 23:235–247] Some species cultivated for folk medicine, flavorings, some TOXIC.
Unabridged references: [Cronquist & Reveal 1984 Intermountain Flora 4:308]" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Marrubium vulgare - common horehound [E-flora]


  1. [E-flora], Accessed March 26, 2015
  2. [Jepson]Marrubium, John M. Miller & Dieter H. Wilken, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Feb 19 2015
  3. [PFAF], Accessed March 26, 2015

Page last modified on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 9:59 PM