Open the Advanced Search

Black Horehound

Ballota nigra

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lamiaceae (Dead-nettle)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, hedgerows, roadsides, walls, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Pinkish-purple flowers. Long-toothed, funnel-shaped sepal tube. In dense whorls. Pollinated by bees.
Cylindrical to egg-shaped, up to 2mm long.
Nettle-like in appearance. Mid-green, oval, toothed and pointed. The upper surfaces of the leaves are wrinkled. A straggling perennial.
Black Horehound is very fragrant. Some say the smell is disagreeable.
Other Names:
Stinking Ballota, Stinking Roger.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Ballota nigra, also known as Black Horehound or Stinking Ballota, is a perennial herb of the mint family, Lamiaceae. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, but it is now widespread in Europe and other parts of the world. The plant can grow up to 3 feet tall and has a creeping habit. It has dark green, hairy, and wrinkled leaves and produces small, clusters of white, mauve or purple flowers. It gives off a strong, musky odor, which is the origin of one of its common names "Stinking Ballota".

Ballota nigra is often used in traditional medicine and is considered to have sedative and expectorant properties. It is also a popular medicinal herb in many cultures, it is used to treat respiratory problems, and as an anti-spasmodic. It can also be used in cooking, but the leaves should be used with caution, as the plant can be toxic in large doses. It is also used in perfumery and aromatherapy. The plant prefers well-drained, sandy soils and full sun to partial shade. It is hardy and easy to grow, but it can be invasive in some areas.


Black Horehound, also known as Ballota nigra, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to the Mediterranean region, but is now widespread throughout Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. The plant grows up to 1 meter in height and has a distinct aroma that is similar to that of mint. Black Horehound has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and herbal remedies due to its various health benefits.

Historically, Black Horehound was used to treat respiratory ailments, such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma, as well as digestive disorders, such as nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. The plant contains several compounds that are thought to be responsible for its medicinal properties, including iridoids, diterpenes, and flavonoids.

Today, Black Horehound is still used for many of the same purposes as it was in the past. It is often used as an expectorant, helping to clear the lungs of mucus and phlegm. It is also used to relieve symptoms of motion sickness and nausea, making it a popular choice for those who suffer from these conditions.

In addition to its traditional uses, Black Horehound is being studied for its potential benefits in treating anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that certain compounds found in the plant may have a calming effect on the nervous system, helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

Black Horehound is also used in the cosmetic industry, particularly in skincare products. The plant contains antioxidants that can help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce redness and irritation in the skin.

While Black Horehound is generally considered safe, it can cause side effects in some people. These side effects may include upset stomach, dizziness, and headaches. As with any herbal remedy, it is important to talk to a healthcare provider before using Black Horehound, especially if you are taking any medications or have a medical condition.

Black Horehound has a long history of use in traditional medicine, dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. The plant was considered a valuable remedy for a variety of ailments, and was often used to treat conditions such as fever, headaches, and menstrual cramps.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Black Horehound has been used in culinary applications as well. The plant has a strong, minty flavor that makes it a popular addition to teas, soups, and stews. It can also be used to flavor liqueurs and other alcoholic beverages.

Black Horehound is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to grow. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun, and can be propagated through seeds or cuttings. The plant can be grown in gardens or containers, and is a popular choice for herb gardens due to its versatility and attractive foliage.

While Black Horehound is generally safe for most people, there are some precautions that should be taken. The plant should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, as its effects on fetal development and lactation are not well understood. Additionally, people with liver or kidney disease should avoid using Black Horehound, as it may exacerbate these conditions.

Black Horehound is also known for its insecticidal properties. It has been used as a natural insect repellent for centuries, and its leaves were once hung in homes to ward off flies and other insects. The plant contains compounds that are toxic to insects, making it an effective natural pesticide.

In addition, Black Horehound has been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. Preliminary studies have shown that certain compounds found in the plant may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of Black Horehound in cancer treatment.

Black Horehound is also sometimes used in veterinary medicine. It has been used to treat respiratory infections in horses and other animals, and is sometimes given to cows to improve milk production. However, it is important to note that the use of Black Horehound in veterinary medicine should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Overall, Black Horehound is a fascinating and useful plant with a wide range of potential benefits. While more research is needed to fully understand its medicinal properties, the plant's long history of use and its many traditional applications suggest that it may have a valuable role to play in modern medicine and beyond. Whether used for its insecticidal properties, its culinary applications, or its potential health benefits, Black Horehound is a plant that is sure to continue to intrigue and inspire for years to come.


Black Horehound filmed at the following locations:
  • Adlington, Lancashire: 7th July 2023
  • Marshside, Southport, Lancashire: 15th July 2023

Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map