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Geum urbanum - L.

Common Name Wood Avens, Bennet's Root - Old man's whiskers, Herb bennet
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods, scrub, hedge banks, walls etc, usually on good damp soils[9, 13, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa, Siberia, Himalayas and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Geum urbanum Wood Avens, Bennet


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Geum urbanum Wood Avens, Bennet
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Llez

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Geum urbanum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Geum rivale subsp. urbanum Á. Löve & D. Löve

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedgerow; North Wall. In. East Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

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[4, 5, 8, 13, 183]. It is a substitute for cloves with a hint of cinnamon in the flavour[12, 74, 183]. It is best used in spring[12]. The root is also boiled to make a beverage[161]. The root is up to 5cm long[4].

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.

Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiinflammatory;  Antiseptic;  Aromatic;  Astringent;  Diaphoretic;  Febrifuge;  Skin;  
Stomachic;  Styptic;  Tonic.

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[254]. All parts of the plant, but especially the root, are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stomachic, styptic and tonic[4, 9, 21, 165, 238]. 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[238, 254] and to treat various skin afflictions - it is said to remove spots, freckles and eruptions from the face[4, 9]. The root is best harvested in the spring, since at this time it is most fragrant[4]. 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[4]. The powdered root had a great reputation as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of intermittent fevers [301].

Other Uses

Repellent;  Tannin.

The freshly dug root has a clove-like fragrance[4], when dried it is used in the linen cupboard to repel moths[4, 53]. The root contains about 9% tannin[4].

Cultivation details

Easily grown in any moderately good garden soil that is well-drained[1]. Prefers shade[12, 21] and a soil rich in organic matter[200]. This species was widely cultivated as a pot-herb in the 16th century[5]. The bruised or dried root is pleasantly aromatic with a clove-like fragrance[245]. Plants self-sow freely when well-sited[238]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200].

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Propagation

Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[200]. 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[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

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 :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Geum aleppicumYellow Avens12
Geum canadenseWhite Avens, Texan avens20
Geum japonicum 12
Geum pentapetalumAleutian avens02
Geum rivaleWater Avens, Purple avens32
Geum triflorumPurple Avens, Old man's whiskers, Prairie Smoke22
Lygeum spartumAlbardine, Lygeum00
Prunus africanaPygeum05

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

cloe green   Thu May 25 2006

The boiled leaves have a thick, furry texture that takes some chewing, but make a perfect palate cooler as a side dish to curry.

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Subject : Geum urbanum  
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