Thursday, July 2, 2009


The mowers that clear the weeds along the roadside recently did their job well, as they always do. This is the first summer that I was left disappointed. But this isn't a sad tale. After all, I'm sure the runners and dog walkers all welcomed this clearing. That same clearing forced me to look deeper, and there I found a solitary Meadowsweet in beautiful bloom.

From WikiPedia:

"The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavour, the green parts having a similar aromatic character to the flowers, leading to the use of the plant as a strewing herb, strewn on floors to give the rooms a pleasant aroma, and its use to flavour wine, beer and many vinegars. The flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, giving them a subtle almond flavor. It has many medicinal properties. The whole plant is a traditional remedy for an acidic stomach and the fresh root is often used in minute quantities in homeopathic preparations. It is effective on its own as a treatment for diarrhoea. The flowers, when made into a tea, are a comfort to flu sufferers. Dried, the flowers make lovely pot pourri.

Active ingredients: compounds of salicylic acid, flavone-glycosides, essential oils and tannins.

In 1897 Felix Hoffmann created a synthetically altered version of salicin, derived from the species, which caused less digestive upset than pure salicylic acid. The new drug, formally Acetylsalicylic acid, was named aspirin by Hoffman's employer Bayer AG after the old botanical name for meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria. This gave rise to the hugely important class of drugs known as NonSteroidal AntiInflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs.

This plant contains the chemicals used to make aspirin, a small section of root, when peeled and crushed smells like Germolene, and when chewed is a good natural remedy for relieving headaches.

A natural black dye can be obtained from the roots by using a copper mordant."


The meadow-sweet was uplifting
Its plumelets of delicate hue,
The clouds were all dreamily drifting
Above in the blue,
On the day when I broke from my tether,
And fled from square and from street;—
The day we went walking together
In the meadow, Sweet.

The meadow, sweet with its clover
And bright with its buttercups lay;
The swallows kept eddying over,
All flashing and gay ;
I remember a fairylike feather
Sailed down your coming to greet,
The day we went walking together
In the meadow, Sweet.

Ah! the meadow, Sweet! and the singing
Of birds in the boughs overhead!
And your soft little hand to mine clinging,
And the words that you said,
When, bold in the beautiful weather,
I laid my love at your feet,
The day we went walking together
In the meadow, Sweet.

- Frances Wynne

"Filipendula ulmaria." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 24 Jun 2009, 22:20 UTC. 24 Jun 2009 <>.

Wynne, Frances. Whisper! London, 1890. 9-10. Web. Google Book Search. 1 Jul 2009.


  1. I for one, (despite being a dog walker) freak out when the "mowers" clear cut the sides of our roads- seem like so much senseless killing! But on a happier note, isn't it amazing how much there is to be learned about a simple plant that we pass by every day? Just yesterday while "catching up" in my journal after a week away, I almost discarded a photo I had taken of an unknown weed by the side of the road. I decided to take a second stab at trying to ID it and by the end of the afternoon, not only had I learned its name (oyster plant-also called goat's beard and /or salsify) but had filled an entire page with information about it. I love the poem you included here- I've done the same over the years in my own journals.
    Your photos are beautiful, as always!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. I had a great time putting it all together.

    I have a growing collection of unknowns here. When will I ever get to them... I keep telling myself, when the snow flies.