Agrimonia eupatoria

 

Botanical Name:Agrimonia eupatoria
Family:    Rosaceae
Genus:    Agrimonia
Species:    A. eupatoria
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Rosales

Synonyms: Common Agrimony. Church Steeples. Cockeburr. Sticklewort. Philanthropos.
Common Name: Agrimony, Churchsteeples

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Habitat: The plant is found abundantly throughout England, on hedge-banks and the sides of fields, in dry thickets and on all waste places. In Scotland it is much more local and does not penetrate very far northward.It grows on  fields, stone walls, waste ground and roadside verges, usually on alkaline soils, preferring sunny positions.

Description:
The common agrimony grows as a deciduous, perennial herbaceous plant and reached heights of up to 100 centimeters. Its roots are deep rhizomes, from which spring the stems. It is characterized by its typical serrated edged pinnate leaves.

The whole plant is dark green with numerous soft hairs. The soft hairs aid in the plant’s seed pods sticking to any animal or person coming in contact with the plant. The flower spikes have a spicy odor like apricots. In the Language of Flowers Agrimony means thankfulness or gratitud.

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The short-stemmed flowers appear from June to September, in long, spike-like, racemose inflorescences. The single flower has an urn-shaped curved flower cup, the upper edge has several rows of soft, curved hook-shaped bristles, 1 to 4 millimeters long. The hermaphrodite flower has fivefold radial symmetry. There are five sepals present . There are five yellow, rounded petals.   The petals and the five to 20 stamens rise above the tip of the flower cup . The two medium-sized carpels in the flower cups are sunk into, but not fused with it. The flowers with their abundant pollen supply attract hoverflies, flies and honey bees. The pollinated flowers develop fruits with burs. These attach to passing grazing animals such as cattle, sheep and deer and are spread over a large area

Agrimony has an old reputation as a popular, domestic medicinal herb, being a simple well known to all country-folk. It belongs to the Rose order of plants, and its slender spikes of yellow flowers, which are in bloom from June to early September, and the singularly beautiful form of its much-cut-into leaves, make it one of the most graceful of our smaller herbs.

Cultivation:
Easily grown in most soils, preferring a calcareous soil. Thrives in a dry lightly shaded position, though it prefers full sun. Plants usually self-sow quite freely when growing in a suitable position. The seeds are contained in burrs that can easily attach themselves to clothing or animal’s fur, thus transporting them to a new area where they can germinate and grow. The cultivar ‘Sweet scented’ is popular in France for making tea because the whole plant is sweet scented and the flowers have a spicy apricot-like fragrance.
Propagation:
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.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses: Tea.

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A refreshing tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves, flowers and stems. It can be drunk hot or cold. It was formerly very popular either on its own or added to China tea, having a peculiar delicacy and aroma. Seed – dried and ground into a meal. A famine food, used when all else fails. This report could refer to A. pilosa. Ledeb (q.v.).

Constituents: Contains volatile oils, flavonoids, apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, kaempferol, tiliroside, triterpene glycosides including euscapic acid and tormentic acid, phenolic acids, and 3%–21% tannins.

Medicinal Uses:
-Astringent tonic, diuretic. Agrimony has had a great reputation for curing jaundice and other liver complaints. Gerard believed in its efficacy. He says: ‘A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have naughty livers’: and he tells us also that Pliny called it a ‘herb of princely authoritie.’ Dioscorides stated that it was not only ‘a remedy for them that have bad livers,’ but also ‘for such as are bitten with serpents.’ Dr. Hill, who from 1751 to 1771 published several works on Herbal medicine, recommends ‘an infusion of 6 oz. of the crown of the root in a quart of boiling water, sweetened with honey and half a pint drank three times a day,’ as an effectual remedy for jaundice. It gives tone to the system and promotes assimilation of food.

Agrimony is also considered a very useful agent in skin eruptions and diseases of the blood, pimples, blotches, etc. A strong decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened with honey or sugar, has been taken successfully to cure scrofulous sores, being administered two or three times a day, in doses of a wineglassful, persistently for several months. The same decoction is also often employed in rural districts as an application to ulcers.

In folklore:
Agrimony has been stated to have medical and magical properties since the time of Pliny the elder. It is ruled astrologically by Cancer, according to Nicholas Culpeper. Common folklore held that it could cure musket wounds, and ward off witchcraft.

Traditional herbal medicine:
The 9th-century text Bald’s Leechbook advised the use of Agrimony as a cure for male impotence – saying it should be boiled in milk, and that it could excite a man who was “insufficiently virile”; it also states that when boiled in Welsh beer it would have the opposite effect.

A. gryposepala, the plant’s North American relative, also has traditional medical uses.

Other Uses:
A. eupatoria is a foodplant for the caterpillars of the snout moth Endotricha flammealis.
A yellow dye is obtained from the root – from whole plant according to other report, – and from the leaves according to another. Harvested in autumn, the yellow becomes deeper the later that the plant is harvested

Known Hazards:  Large quantities could lead to digestive complaints and constipation due to its tannins.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agrimonia_eupatoria
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/agrim015.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Agrimonia+eupatoria

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