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Meadowsweet This Plant Is a Sweet Herb

Updated on August 6, 2015

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

A short-lived shadow brought in its wake a whispering breeze a welcome relief from the blazing July sun, shining in a vast blue sky. The sky is probably the largest object which is often ignored during the course of ones ramblings for we can spend hours beneath it without looking up at is vastness.

One can be forgiven for nature has blessed us with so many other subjects that takes up much of our attention.Swallows twittering enjoying the sunshine, a pheasant's throaty call riding on the quiet air, a wren drops silently into the depths of the hedgerow, seeking out seclusion, affords us some indication of how the eye can be drawn to nature's wonders. Summer meadows are jeweled with summer flowers but my eye was drawn to the regiments of one of my favourite summer flowers, that adorned the ditch,that borders this rustic pasture i had happened upon.

Quiet pastures conceal hidden gems

This quiet July pasture held many hidden gems. Photograph by D.A.L.
This quiet July pasture held many hidden gems. Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.

Fragrant

The fragrant meadowsweet with its delicate clusters of graceful, creamy white flowers is a joy to look upon. They flower from June right through until the end of August or early September, but it is now that they are at the regal best, decking the ditch with their frothy blooms. It is a member of the rose family which provides us with some of our favourite species. it is a native perennial herb here in England and throughout much of Europe and western Asia. The herb as been introduced elsewhere including north America where it has become naturalised. The plant has acquired many country titles such as Queen of the meadow,Pride of the meadow,Meadow wort, Meadow Queen Meadsweet,and medwort.


The frothy flowers

The fragrant flowers of the meadowsweet. Photograph by D.A.L.
The fragrant flowers of the meadowsweet. Photograph by D.A.L.

Whats in a name ?

The botanical name Filipendula ulmaria derives from the Latin words. Filpendula derives from t such words filum meaning a thread and pendulus,hanging, which alludes to the thread like hairs that hang from the root of this species. The species name ulmaria alludes to the foliage having a superficial resemblance to that of the elm tree {rippley surface of the leaflets} the Latin name for the Elm tree is Ulmaria.

The root system which has a creeping nature sends up angular ridged stems of a reddish colour which can attain the height of 3-5 feet. {30-150cm} The leaves are of a dark green colour above but whitish and downy beneath. They are described by botanists as being uninterruptedly pinnate. These means that large leaflets are interrupted by smaller on, known as intermediate leaflets on a common midrib, ending with a terminal leaflet much larger than the others with three to five lobes. each leaflet has serrated teeth.

Leaves

Specimens of meadow sweet foliage. Photograph by D.A.L.
Specimens of meadow sweet foliage. Photograph by D.A.L.
The underside of the foliage is whitish by virtue of fine down. Photograph by D.A.L.
The underside of the foliage is whitish by virtue of fine down. Photograph by D.A.L.

The flowers

The flowers have a sweet, strong fragrance. The foliage also has a fragrance but of a different scent to those of the flowers, being almond like. In some parts of the country the plant is affectionately called "Courtship and Marriage" alluding to this phenomena. When dried the flowers make a fine pot pourri. The fragrances made the herb popular to place in draws and wardrobes in days gone by to keep their clothes and linen smelling of summer meadows. It was strewn on the floors of houses during the summer months for the same purpose.

The flowers were also but in mead and later beers to impart flavour and is still used to flavour some herbal beers. History books convey that the meadowsweet was a sacred plant of the Druids. Another quaint country title for the plant is Bridewort, which alludes to the floors of churches being strew with the herb during wedding ceremonies. The bridal Garland also incorporated the herb during this period of our history.

Meadowsweet and Willowherb

Meadow sweet growing with willowherb. Photograph by D.A.L.
Meadow sweet growing with willowherb. Photograph by D.A.L.

Medicinal Uses.

The meadowsweet has long been utilised in herbal medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It is known to possess astringent, diuretic and some tonic qualities. It was once regarded as invaluable in treating diarrhoea. It was regarded as being beneficial to the health of the bowel as well has curing the former. stmach upsets were also treated by the herb.

An infusion of the flowers, drank as a tea were said to help alleviate the symptoms of flu. It has been discovered that a small section of the root with the outer layer removed, has a smell of Germolene when crushed. Chewing the crushed root was said to cure headaches. These notes on medicinal uses its for historical reasons and not meant as a recommendation for its use. There are many modern day herbals which give the recipes and dosages for its present day uses which includes it being utilised to treat stomach ulcers.


A plant of damp locations

meadowsweet dwells in damp places. Photograph by D.A.L.
meadowsweet dwells in damp places. Photograph by D.A.L.

Finally

Meadow sweet does not look out of place as a garden plant, if one has a damp but sunlit corner to accommodate . Its frothy blooms enhance any such situation. They also make good companion plants in the margins of ponds and ditches once established.

Comments

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    • D.A.L. profile image
      Author

      Dave 7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Kay, glad you enjoyed it, thank you for your kind comments.

    • Kay Creates profile image

      Kay Creates 7 years ago from Ohio

      I enjoyed this trip to the meadow with you. Great information and lovely photos.

    • D.A.L. profile image
      Author

      Dave 7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      B, thanks for being the first to visit.Thank you for your kind comments. Love and best wishes.

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 7 years ago

      Your hubs are so informative, your pictures so wonderful........ once again i thoroughly enjoyed this hub

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