Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
'Queen of the meadow where small streams are flowing, what is your kingdom and whom do you rule? Mine are the places where small streams are flowing, mine are the people of marshland and pool.
Kingfisher courtiers, quick flashing, beautiful dragon flies, minnows are mine one and all.
Little frog servants who wait on me dutifully, hop on my errands and come when I call.
Little Queen meadowsweet served with such loyalty where is your crown then, no jewels to wear?
Nothing I need for a sign of my royalty, nothing I need but my own fluffy hair.'
Cicely Mary Barker 1925
This beautiful waterside plant is referred to as the 'Queen of the meadow'. In Tudor times if one was expecting a visit from the Queen, meadowsweet flowers would have been strewn upon the floor to mask any unpleasant smells. Its Yorkshire name of courtship and matrimony recognises it has two scents, a sweet scent for courtship and a sharper scent for the reality of marriage!
A healing herb that induces sweating when used fresh and can help heal both internal and external wounds. Traditionally the water distilled from the flowers has been used for inflammations of the eyes and its astringent qualities can help diarrhea. As it contains methyl salicylate it can help ease rheumatism. Sometimes referred to as 'herbal bicarbonate of soda' it is useful in the treatment of dyspepsia. It's diuretic properties help to clear out excessive fluids which result in the swellings of the limbs.
Meadowsweet flowers follow on from Elderflowers and can be used to make syrups, sorbets, ice creams and champagne. The young leaves can be cooked or eaten raw in the spring.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.