Common Names :Avens,wood avens, herb Bennet, colewort and St. Benedict‘s herb
Habitat:Geum urbanum is native to Europe and the Middle East.It s mostly available in Ireland and southern Scotland, though becoming scarcer in the north.This plant in grows in shady places (such as woodland edges and near hedgerows)
wood avens is a perennial plant.It has thin, nearly upright, wiry stems, slightly branched, from 1 to 2 feet in height, of a reddish brown on one side. Its leaves vary considerably in form, according to their position. The radical leaves are borne on long, channelled foot-stalks, and are interruptedly pinnate, as in the Silverweed the large terminal leaflet being wedge-shaped and the intermediate pairs of leaflets being very small. The upper leaves on the stem are made up of three long, narrow leaflets: those lower on the stems have the three leaflets round and full. The stem-leaves are placed alternately and have at their base two stipules (leaf-like members that in many plants occur at the junction of the base of the leaf with the stem). Those of the Avens are very large, about an inch broad and long, rounded in form and coarsely toothed and lobed. All the leaves are of a deep green colour, more or less covered with spreading hairs, their margins toothed.
click to see the pictures
The rhizomes are 1 to 2 inches long terminating abruptly, hard and rough with many light brown fibrous roots. The flowers, rather small for the size of the plant, are on solitary, terminal stalks. The corolla is composed of five roundish, spreading, yellow petals, the calyx cleft into ten segments – five large and five small – as in the Silverweed. The flowers, which are in bloom all the summer and autumn, often as late as December, are less conspicuous than the round fruitheads, which succeed them, which are formed of a mass of dark crimson achenes, each terminating in an awn, the end of which is curved into a hook.
The hermaphrodite flowers are scented and pollinated by bees. The fruits have burrs, which are used for dispersal by getting caught in the fur of rabbits and other animals. The root is used as a spice in soups and also for flavouring ale.
Easily grown in any moderately good garden soil that is well-drained. Prefers shade and a soil rich in organic matter. This species was widely cultivated as a pot-herb in the 16th century. The bruised or dried root is pleasantly aromatic with a clove-like fragrance. Plants self-sow freely when well-sited. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus.
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer’ Division in spring or autumn. This should be done every 3 – 4 years in order to maintain the vigour of the plant. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Drink.
Young leaves – cooked. Root – cooked. Used as a spice in soups, stews etc, and also as a flavouring in ale. It is a substitute for cloves with a hint of cinnamon in the flavour. It is best used in spring. The root is also boiled to make a beverage. The root is up to 5cm long
Parts Used: Herb, root.
Constituents: The principal constituent is a volatile oil, which is mainly composed of Eugenol, and a glucoside, Gein, geum-bitter, tannic acid, gum and resin. It imparts its qualities to water and alcohol, which it tinges red. Distilled with water, it yields 0.04 per cent. of thick, greenish, volatile oil.
Wood avens is an astringent herb, used principally to treat problems affecting the mouth, throat and gastro-intestinal tract. It tightens up soft gums, heals mouth ulcers, makes a good gargle for infections of the pharynx and larynx, and reduces irritation of the stomach and gut. All parts of the plant, but especially the root, are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stomachic, styptic and tonic. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, intestinal disorders, stomach upsets, irritable bowel syndrome and liver disorders, it is also applied externally as a wash to haemorrhoids, vaginal discharges etc and to treat various skin afflictions – it is said to remove spots, freckles and eruptions from the face. The root is best harvested in the spring, since at this time it is most fragrant. Much of the fragrance can be lost on drying, so the root should be dried with great care then stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container, being sliced and powdered only when required for use.
Wood avens was stated to be a treatment for poison and dog bites. Paracelsus suggested its use against liver disease, catarrh and stomach upsets.
Geum urbanum herb and roots have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea for treatment of rheumatism, gout, infections, and fever.
The freshly dug root has a clove-like fragrance, when dried it is used in the linen cupboard to repel moths. The root contains about 9% tannin.
Folklore: In folklore, wood avens is credited with the power to drive away evil spirits, and to protect against rabid dogs and venomous snakes. It was associated with Christianity because its leaves grew in threes and its petals in fives (reminiscent of, respectively, the Holy Trinity and the Five Wounds). Astrologically, it was said to be ruled by Jupiter.
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.