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Filipendula ulmaria - (L.)Maxim.

Common Name Meadowsweet, Queen of the meadow, Double Lady of the Meadow, European Meadowsweet
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards Avoid for asthmatics. Use by children for diarhoea not recommended or for children under 12 due to salicylate content (risk of Reye's syndrome) [301].
Habitats Wet ground in swamps, marshes, fens, wet woods and meadows, wet rock ledges and by rivers, but not on acid peats[17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, temperate Asia and Mongolia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet, Queen of the meadow, Double Lady of the Meadow, European  Meadowsweet

Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet, Queen of the meadow, Double Lady of the Meadow, European  Meadowsweet


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Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Filipendula ulmaria is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Spiraea ulmaria. Ulmaria pentapetala.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Meadow; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

All parts of the plant are edible. Root - cooked[2, 141]. Young leaves - cooked as a flavouring in soups[177]. Young leaves, flowers and roots are brewed into a tea[183]. The dried leaves are used as a flavouring[12, 100], especially as a sweetener in herb teas[13, 183]. The flowers are used as a flavouring in various alcoholic beverages and in stewed fruits[183]. Adding them to wine or beer is said to make a very heady brew[244]. They are also made into a syrup which can be used in cooling drinks and fruit salads[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Alterative  Antiinflammatory  Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Aromatic  Astringent  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  
Dysentery  Homeopathy  Stomachic  Tonic

Meadowsweet has a very long history of herbal use, it was one of the three most sacred herbs of the Druids[238]. The leaves and flowering stems are alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, stomachic and tonic[4, 9, 21, 165]. The plant is harvested in July when it is in flower and can be dried for later use[4]. The flower head contains salicylic acid, from which the drug aspirin can be synthesised[200, 238]. Unlike the extracted aspirin, which can cause gastric ulceration at high doses, the combination of constituents in meadowsweet act to protect the inner lining of the stomach and intestines whilst still providing the anti-inflammatory benefits of aspirin[254]. The herb is a valuable medicine in the treatment of diarrhoea, indeed it is considered almost specific in the treatment of children's diarrhoea[4]. It is also considered to be a useful stomachic, being used to treat hyperacidity, heartburn, gastritis and peptic ulcers, for which it is one of the most effective plant remedies[4, 238]. It is also frequently used in the treatment of afflictions of the blood[4]. Meadowsweet is also effective against the organisms causing diphtheria, dysentery and pneumonia[238]. This remedy should not be given to people who are hypersensitive to aspirin[238]. A strong decoction of the boiled root is said to be effective, when used externally, in the treatment of sores and ulcers[244]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root[9]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet for cough, bronchitis, fever and cold (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Essential  Pot-pourri  Strewing

A black dye is obtained from the roots. It is brown[141]. A yellow dye is obtained from the plant tops[106]. An essential oil obtained from the flower buds is used in perfumery[46, 61]. The whole plant, but especially the leaves[245], was formerly used as a strewing herb, imparting an almond-like fragrance[4, 66]. Strongly aromatic, its delightful perfume would completely fill the room[244]. Both flowers and leaves have been used in pot-pourri, retaining their scent for several months. The scent of the dried flowers becoming more and more pleasant with age[245].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Massing, Rock garden, Seashore, Specimen, Woodland garden. Requires a humus-rich moist soil in semi-shade[200]. Succeeds in full sun only if the soil is reliably moist throughout the growing season[200]. Dislikes dry or acid soils[1, 17]. Does well in marshy soils[24, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. The flowers have a strong sweet smell[4], which for many people is sickly[245]. The leaves are also aromatic[187], though the scent is very different from the flowers[4]. The leaves are pleasantly aromatic[245]. A good bee plant[24, 30]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Fragrant flowers.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown in the autumn in a cold frame[1]. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in spring, germinating best at a temperature of 10 - 13°c[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have grown enough. If not, keep them in a cold frame for the winter and plant them out in late spring. Division in autumn or winter[200]. 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

terrie   Sat Jul 29 2006

I am very interested in finding a photo of this Herb Meadowsweet. I had hoped that you would have a nice picture of it, but I guess the joke's on me.

david   Tue Aug 25 2009

Painter & Power also point out the roots are edible (but astringent) have been made into bread( A garden of Old Fashioned & Unusual Herbs 1982)

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