The sweet scent of the delicate meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) flower draws you to it as quickly as it does the bees. Subsequently it grabs you by the nose and demands you stop to take a moment to admire its beautiful fluffy flower head.
It’s no accident that this delightful plant also answers to the name of Queen of the Meadows. For example, think of elderflowers for a moment, and add a punch of exotic perfume, which only a queen deserves. Consequently, you’ll now have some idea of the profusion of scent, which hits you as you walk through any damp woods, meadows or river banks lucky enough to be carpeted with this delightful plant.
Not only is meadowsweet edible, but it also has some pretty fantastic medicinal properties. Hence the reason why many herbalists favour it as a reliable remedy for arthritic and rheumatic aches and pains. But don’t worry, it’s easy to make your own decoction or tonic by following the instructions in a previous post I wrote, ‘Homemade Herbal Recipes’.
Also, with the above in mind, do yourself a big favour, and get a tincture on the go now, in plenty of time for your winter body woes! And, if you suffer from digestive problems, then adding some lemon balm or (and) marshmallow to the meadowsweet will go a long way to relieving those nasty symptoms.
Indeed, meadowsweet was once a sacred herb, held in high regard by the druids, the Celts version of doctors. With herbalists still using it today to treat the following ten conditions:
- Arthritis & rheumatism
- Chronic Ulcers
- Peptic Ulceration
- Minor stomach upsets
- Anti Inflammatory
- Inhibits the growth of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- Useful in treating diarrhoea, particularly in young children
Special Precautions & Warnings:
As with all medicines, meadowsweet, when taken appropriately, is safe for most people. However, it should be used with caution for the following people:
- Children under 16
- People with asthma
- People with an existing allergy to aspirin
- Taking excessive amounts of meadowsweet can cause blood in the stool, vomiting, tinnitus and kidney problems
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s UNSAFE to use meadowsweet if you are pregnant. Not enough is known about the safety of using meadowsweet during breast-feeding. Consequently, it’s best to stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Historically, it’s said that this delicate herb was used to attract love, peace and happiness and was a key ingredient in ancient love spells and potions. Also, this flower was added to a brides bouquet to bring joy and blessings to the bride!
A poem by Edith Nesbit
“OUR boat has drifted with the stream
That stirs the river’s full sweet bosom
And now she stays where gold flags gleam
By meadowsweet’s pale foam of blossom.
Sedge-warblers sing the sun the song.
The nightingale sings to the shadows;
Forget-me-nots grow all along
The fringes of the happy meadows.
See the wet lilies’ golden beads!
The river-nymphs for necklace string them,
And in the sighing of the reeds
You hear the song their lovers sing them.
Gold sun, blue air, green shimmering leaves,
The weir’s old song, the wood’s old story.
Such spells the enchanting Summer weaves.
She holds me in a web of glory.
And you, with head against my arm.
And subtle wiles that seek to hold me.
Not even you can add a charm.
To the sweet sorceries that enfold me.
Yet lean there still! The hour is ours;
If we should move the charm might shiver
And joyless sun and scentless flowers
Might mock a disenchanted river.“
Once upon a time, households scattered ‘strewing herbs’ over their floors. This ensured that not only did their home smell sweet, but they also served as an insecticide and disinfectant. Therefore, meadowsweet’s flowery, astringent properties made it an excellent choice as a strewing herb.
Did You Know?
In 1838 an Italian professor, Rafaele Piria, produced salicylic acid from the flower buds of the meadowsweet plant. In case you don’t know, salicylic acid is a key ingredient in aspirin, and in 1897 Felix Hoffmann, working for the German drug company Bayer, synthesised salicin and that is when this new drug took on the name we’re all now familiar with, ‘aspirin’. Although today, aspirin also includes willow bark in its makeup. However, the aspirin derived from meadowsweet is far more gentle and is not nearly as abrasive with the stomach lining. As a result, it’s great for digestive complaints as well as being gentle on the stomach.
- 12 full meadowsweet flower heads
- 1½ lb sugar
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 gallon of cold water
- 1 lemon
- To begin with, pick flower heads in full bloom and place into a demijohn, or plastic bucket, followed by the lemon juice and cut up rind. Try not to add any pith, owing to the bitterness it’ll add to the liquid.
- Follow this by adding sugar, vinegar, cold water. Gently stir and leave for 24 hours.
- Next, strain and put into sturdy screw-top bottles and leave in a dark cupboard for 10 days to 2 weeks. Only fill the bottles ¾ full in case there’s pressure build-up and unscrew the cap every few days to “burp” the bottle.
- Conversely, I prefer to reuse old, sterilised plastic bottles as these take the worry of exploding glass bottles out of the equation!
- Last, but not least chill and enjoy!
3. Meadowsweet Tea
To make meadowsweet tea: 2-6g dried herb infused into 1 pint of boiling water. Steep covered for 5 -10 minutes, the longer you steep it the more bitter the decocotion will be. Take 3 cups per day. It’s strongly aromatic, sweet and slightly astringent.
Time To Sum Up
To sum up this weeks post, what are you waiting for? To put it differently, meadowsweet is available in abundance right now. So, get those foraging boots on, enjoy the fresh air, and bag yourself a bundle of these fine herbs! Furthermore, go on, take a look out the window, the great outdoors is calling you!
And finally, happy foraging, take care, stay safe and don’t forget to subscribe!