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Ballota nigra (black horehound)

Black horehound is a perennial native to the Mediterranean region and central Asia but also found throughout Europe and other parts of the world. The whole plant has a very strong and characteristic smell and grows up to 70-100 cm. Despite its small flowers, pollination is performed by bumblebees and bees. Black horehound has been used widely in traditional folk medicine worldwide. The first documented use of the herb dates back to the 13th century and have differed among regions through history; for external wound-healing, stomach-disorders, as a sedative in cases of nervous disorders, for treating sleep disorders and in cough tinctures. Usually, it has been used in the form of leaf-tea. Studies show that black horehound has antidepressant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial effects.


Start cultivation in April in a broadcast tray under light conditions, approximately 20-23 °C. Initially sow the seeds in tray substrate. Cover seeds to a depth of 1 cm. If seeds do not germinate at room temperature, try a cooling period in fridge for a month and put the tray back in room temperature for germination. When large enough to handle, transplant the plants into small individual pots in pot substrate. The pots can be placed in an unheated greenhouse, or outside when the risk of frost is over. When fully rooted in the pots, plant outside in field. Black horehound prefers semi-shade or sunny settings.

Family: Lamiaceae

Swedish: bosyska

Finnish: tummaporro

Norwegian: hunderot

Danish: tandbæger

Icelandic: hundarót

Mature seeds of Ballota nigra is black and very shiny. The best way to harvest is to shake the plant, in this way only mature seeds will fall out.
Flowering time for Ballota nigra is quite long, from June to September. Due to the extended flowering period, seeds of Ballota nigra will mature gradually and unevenly. Flowers may occur during the first year, but harvest of seeds will normally have to wait until second year (usually August). Always harvest in dry conditions. Mature seeds of Ballota nigra is black and very shiny. The best way to harvest is to shake the plant, in this way only mature seeds will fall off. There are different ways to do this; either shake individual plants with a big plastic box prepared where the seeds can be collected, or if many plants; put some white fabric between the rows, on both sides of the plants. When shaken, the seeds will now fall onto the fabric and can easily be collected. By using this method, you will end up with not only the seeds, but insects, flowers and other parts of the plant. Subsequently cleaning the seeds can be a bit tricky and sometimes must be carried out manually.