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Horehound is a common name applied to two related genera of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae:

The name is of unknown origin, but with the first part ‘hore’ derived from “hoary”, “hairy”. This article deals with the white horehound, Marrubium vulgare, which was widely introduced around the world by European colonists and is now a weed in many countries.

White Horehound is a perennial herbaceous plant, found all over Europe and indigenous to Great Britain. Like many other plants of the Labiate family, it flourishes in waste places and by roadsides, particularly in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, where it is also cultivated in the corners of cottage gardens for making tea and candy for use in coughs and colds. It is also brewed and made into horehound ale, an appetizing and healthful beverage, much drunk in Norfolk and other country districts.

The plant is bushy, producing numerous annual, quadrangular and branching stems, a foot or more in height, on which the whitish flowers are borne in crowded, axillary, woolly whorls. The leaves are much wrinkled, opposite, petiolate, about 1 inch long, covered with white, felted hairs, which give them a woolly appearance. They have a curious, musky smell, which is diminished by drying and lost on keeping. Horehound flowers from June to September.

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.

The 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 negro Caesar’s antidote for vegetable poisons.

Gerard recommends it, in addition to its uses in coughs and colds, to ‘those that have drunk poyson or have been bitten of serpents,’ and it was also administered for ‘mad dogge’s biting.’

Some images of Horehound