Plant Spotlight: Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla Vulgaris)
An Old-World Favorite
Lady's Mantle was a popular plant grown in the Middle Ages and takes it's origins from areas in the north; England, Scotland, Netherlands and many Alpine regions. It thrives in moist, hilly pastures. where livestock enjoy grazing on it.
In the home garden, this plant is perfect for cottage gardens, the front of a border, planting along the edges of walkways, for erosion control or under trees.
Growing Lady's Mantle
Lady's Mantle is a perennial in the Rosaceae family (Rose) that does best in Zones 3 through 8, in full sun or part shade. It grows from 18 inches to 24 inches high and produces chartreuse yellow flowers in late spring to early summer. The plant is characterized by the lovely bright green foliage that are fuzzy. When it rains, drops collects on these leaves for a stunning visual effect. It does self-seed, but not aggressively.
Have you ever heard of Lady's Mantle?
Common Growing Problems
Lady's Mantle isn't affected by too many problems and is very low maintenance. Pests and Rodents tend to leave it alone. One potential problem is fungus caused by too much humidity. This can be combatted by making sure the plant has plenty of room and air circulation around it.
The plant takes it's name "Mantle" meaning cloak and was thought to have adorned the Virgin Mary. Many ceremonies dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages included adorning her statue with the plant.
The plant was also said to promote better sleep if the leaves were placed under your pillow.
One of it's nicknames, Dewcup, was so called because of the way water collects on the leaves.
How to Grow Lady's Mantle From Seed
Although it takes a bit longer than just buying starts or plants from your garden center, Lady's Mantle can be propagated from seed.
The best way to do this is starting the seeds indoors and then planting out after danger of frost.
- In seed starting mix, place one seed per cell and barely cover.
- Water in and keep moist.
- Place in a spot that is between 65 and 70 degrees to ensure good germination.
- Plant the seedlings outside after danger of frost has passed.
*Please be advised, it can take 3 to 4 weeks for the seeds to germinate, so be patient!
Lady's Mantle was a popular tonic in the Middle Ages for PMS and excessive menstruation. Preparation was as follows: 1oz of the leaves to 1 pint of boiling water, thus making an herbal tea. It is also rumored to help ease the transition into menopause.
It has anti-inflammatory agents and was also popular topically for wound healing and to stop bleeding. Typically, it was made into a salve or fabric was soaked in the herbal tonic and the wound was dressed with that fabric.
When used as a tonic on one's face, it helps tone the skin and reduce inflammation.
The entire plant is edible, but most commonly the leaves are eaten raw or cooked like spinach. It is full of vitamins, minerals and flavonoids, which are good for vascular health.
**As always, please consult your doctor for potential allergies or side effects. Lady's Mantle has been taken in high doses without toxicity in many individuals, but better to err on the side of caution with anything new you are introducing into your diet.
Lady's Mantle as the Subject of Poems
Our Lady's Mantle !
When I musing stray In leafy June along the mossy sward, No flower that blooms more fixes my regard Than thy green leaf, though simple its array;
For thou to me art as some minstrel's lay, Depicting manners of the olden time, When on Inch Cailliach's isle the convent chime Summoned to Vespers at the close of day.
Tis pleasant 'mid the never-ending strife Of this too busy, mammon-loving age, When Nature's gentler charms so few engage, To muse at leisure on the quiet life Of earlier days, when every humble flower Was known to all, and cherished as a dower.
To Our Lady's Mantle from Sonnets and Miscellaneous Poems By James Inglis Cochraine