Horehound (Marrubuim rotundifolium)- A sweet petite plant
I am in love with a two-year-old plant I took a chance on, while shopping at one of my favorite nurseries in Redmond. I needed to soften the edge of a parking strip bed in three places. It had to be less than 18” tall and wide, have good texture/color next to a purple leaved plant, be fairly droughty and not take up much room. Last winter when a relentless snowstorm came through Seattle, I piled 20” of freezing snow on top of it. I was stunned to see it pop back in spring. This made me like it even more…because it looks so delicate and fragile but is as tough as the sidewalk it grows on.
Marrubium r. is from the mint family, a Turkish native, drought tolerant, cold hardy (down to zone 4), rabbit resistant and low maintenance. It does require good drainage.
After enthusiastically telling my friend and colleague Jason Jorgensen about my find, he kindly brought me a bag of horehound hard candies (made of Marrubium vulgare), used in traditional medicine as an expectorant and to assuage a sore throat. M. vulgare was also used to rid the intestinal tract of parasites.
Horehound has a terrible name. It could be a plant with a bad reputation if you were to mistakenly put a ‘W’ in front of it. The word comes from the Old English words har and hune, meaning downy plant for the little white hairs covering the leaves. The botanical genera name is thought to be derived from the Hebrew word marrob, meaning bitter juice.
I don’t fall in love every day, because I have so many plants and I kill a lot of them. It is hard to impress me, but I cannot walk by without stealing a glimpse. This plant is adorable and has survived!