Scientific Name:Filipendula ulmaria
About this Herb:Meadowsweet is a perennial herb in the family Rosaceae that grows in damp meadows. It is native throughout most of Europe and Western Asia. It has been introduced and naturalized in North America.
The stems are 3 to 7 ft. long, erect and furrowed, reddish to sometimes purple. The leaves are dark-green on the upper side and whitish and downy underneath, much divided, having a few large serrate leaflets and small intermediate ones. Terminal leaflets are large, 4 to 8 cm long, and 3 to 5 lobed.
Meadowsweet has delicate, graceful, creamy-white flowers clustered close together in handsome irregularly-branched cymes, having a very strong, sweet smell. They flower from June to early September.
Common Names:Queen of the Meadow, Pride of the Meadow, Meadow-Wort, Meadow Queen, Lady of the Meadow, Dollof, Meadsweet, Bridewort.
Uses:The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavor, 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 flavor wine, beer, and many types of vinegar. 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 infinitesimal quantities in homeopathic preparations. Dried, the flowers are used in potpourri. It is also a frequently used spice in Scandinavian varieties of mead.
Chemical constituents include 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 class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (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.