Botanical Name: Agrimonia parviflora
Species: A. parviflora
Common Name: Harvestlice
Other Names: Burr Marigold, Church Steeples, Cockleburr, Sticklewort,Philanthropos,
Flowers: July – September
Parts Used: Aerial parts
Habitat:Agrimonia parviflora is native to Eastern N. America – Connecticut and New York to Florida, west to Texas and Nebraska. It grows
on damp thickets and the edges of low woods, growing in clumps. Moist or dry soils.
Description: Agrimonia parviflora is a perennial that grows from 3 to 6 feet. The stems are hairy. The leaves are divided; the main stem leaves with 11 to 19 unequal leaflets. The leaflets are smooth above and hairy below; strongly serrated, and 1 to 3 inches long. The flowers, about 3/8 inch across, have five conspicuous and spreading petals, which are egg-shaped in form and somewhat narrow in proportion to their length, slightly notched at the end and of a bright yellow color. The stamens are five to twelve in number. The flowers face boldly outwards and upwards towards the light, but after they have withered, the calyx points downwards. It becomes rather woody, thickly covered at the end with a mass of small bristly hairs, that spread and develop into a burr-like form, which are the seed pods. These seed pods cling by the hooked ends of their stiff hairs to any person or animal coming into contact with the plant, thus the names ‘Cockleburr’ and ‘Sticklewort’. (This is not the generally known troublesome cockleburr, which is known as “Burdock”.)
Agrimonies have one to two foot branchy stems covered with a fine, silky down and terminate in spikes of yellow flowers. Both the flowers and the notched leaves give off a faint characteristic lemony scent when crushed. After the flowers fade they give place to tiny clinging “burrs” which will quickly adhere to your clothing if you brush by an it plant in a hedgerow.
Related species: (Agrimonia eupatoria) (European alien) is used similarly; in France it is drunk as much for its flavor as for its medicinal virtues. Tea of the European species is believed to be helpful in diarrhea, blood disorders, fevers, gout, hepatitis, pimples, sore throats, and even worms. In studies with mice, the European species Agrimonia pilosa has shown anti-tumor activity.
Succeeds in most soils, preferring a calcareous soil. Prefers a sunny position. Plants self-sow when growing in a suitable position.
Seed – can be sown in spring or autumn, either in pots in a cold frame or in situ. It usually germinates in 2 – 6 weeks at 13°c, though germination rates can be low, especially if the seed has been stored. A period of cold stratification helps but is not essential. When grown in pots, prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.
Agrimony is usually common enough to harvest freely in the wild, as long as you take only a small portion from any given area. Tie in small bundles and hang in a dark, dry place for a few days to a week depending on temperature. Or place small amounts in large paper bags. Dry herbs in well ventilated areas away from smoke, pets, and rodents. Harvest Agrimony seeds in late summer or early fall, and plant right away or store in freezer.
Constituents:Tannins, bitter principle, essential oil, silica.
Properties: Mild Astringent, Tonic, Diuretic, Deobstruent.
Main Uses: To stop bleeding. Agrimony is tonic to the digestive system, the gentle astringency of its tannins toning the mucous membranes, improving their secretion and absorption. Agrimony is a useful remedy for healing peptic ulcers and controlling colitis. The bitter principles in the plant regulate the function of the liver and gallbladder. It has been used to treat gallstones and cirrhosis of the liver. It has also been used to lower high uric acid levels in rheumatism and gout and it is said to have diuretic properties.
Agrimony is a major herb for stopping bleeding and it is used to treat profuse menstruation. Research indicates that Agrimony can increase coagulation of the blood by up to 50%. It is used internally for blood in the urine and externally for wounds and cuts. It is also used for inflamed gums and sore throat (mouthwash and gargle).
Medical Uses: Agrimony contains essential oil, bitters and vitamins but it is large amounts of tannins that are responsible for most of it’s medicinal properties. Being astringent it has been used to stop bleeding. It has been prescribed by herbalist in the US and Europe for gastric problems including gas and diarrhea. Also for urinary disorders. There are historical accounts of it being used in the 1800s by doctors in the US to successfully treat incontinence.(Erichsen-Brown) The plant has been applied to skin irritations and cuts and used in baths.
In addition to it’s medical uses many people enjoy a tea from the leaves and stems for the flavor and the European species has been used to make a yellow dye.
Agrimony is not commonly used today, but has its place in traditional herbal medicine. This herb is safe for use for minor ailments in most healthy people. Like most herb simples, the uses to which it is put are remarkably varied. The English use it to make a delicious “spring” or “diet” drink for purifying the blood. It is considered especially useful as a tonic for aiding recovery from winter colds, fevers, and diarrhea. Agrimony contains tannin and a volatile essential oil.
As Agrimony also possesses an astringent action, it is frequently used in alternative medicine as an herbal mouthwash and gargle ingredient, and is applied externally in the form of a lotion to minor sores and ulcers. Agrimony has also been recommended, as a strong decoction, to cure sores, blemishes, and pimples.
Caution: This is an astringent herb, do not use if constipated. Do not use internally during pregnancy without discussing with your obstetrician.
History and Folklore
Witches used it in spells to dispel negative energies, and to ward off hexes. Agrimony was said to cause a deep sleep. When placed beneath a mans head this sleep would last until it was removed. This passage is from an old English medical manuscript:
If it be leyd under mann’s heed,
He shal sleepyn as he were deed;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Till fro under his heed it be takyn.’
Author Jessica Houdret says The Anglo Saxons included Agrimony in charms and dubious preparations of blood and pounded frogs.
Herbal Tea Recipe
Agrimony Herb Tea: Infuse 1 teaspoon dried Agrimony root, leaves, or flowers in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain and flavor with honey and a little licorice root if desired. Take up to 1 cup per day. Said to be a good blood purifier.
Bach Flower Remedies : Agrimony
Homeopathic Remedy for: “The jovial, cheerful, humorous people who love peace and are distressed by argument or quarrel, to avoid which they will agree to give up much. Though generally they have troubles and are tormented and restless and worried in mind or in body, they hide their cares behind their humour and jesting and are considered very good friends to know. They often take alcohol or drugs in excess, to stimulate themselves and help themselves bear their trials with cheerfulness.”
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.