Wildcrafting Horehound
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Dominic Cummins
Posted on: January 27, 2002

Can horehound be wild crafted? Are there two varieties of horehound? If so how are they told apart, do they both have medicinal properties?

You don’t say where you are. Horehound is a native of southern Europe and I don’t believe that it has been naturalized in North America or elsewhere. So, if you are in North America, horehound is not likely to found in the wild (as far as I know).

Assuming you are in southern Europe, horehound there are indeed several species. The two main genera are Marrubium and Balota. The common horehound that is usually referred to in books is Marrubium vulgare. It is sometimes referred to as "white horehound". Balota species include the "black horehound", Balota nigra, and the "greek horehound", Balota acetabulosa. There is also the woolly horehound, Marrubium incanum, and others as well.

When wildcrafting it is essential to have a good reference book for the area you are in. It is equally important to be familiar with basic botanical terms. Misidentification of herbs growing in the wild can be dangerous because there are often poisonous plants that look very similar to the ones you are looking for. It is important that the book you use as a reference is one that includes all plants likely to be growing in the area, not just those that are medicinal. That’s why, for amateur wildcrafters in northeastern North America, we recommend the Peterson and McKenny book, "Field Guide to Wildflowers". It is easy to use, visual, and it highlights distinguishing differences between similar species that can be used for indentification. If you are in southern Europe, you need to find a similar book.

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