Filipendula ulmaria, Spirea ulmaria Rosaceae Botanical description: Perennial herb growing in damp meadows and ditches. Creeping root stock with angular red stem. Branched near top. Leaves alternate, pinnate. Leaflets are entire, serrate and have a white downy covering to the underside. Terminal leaflet 3-5 lobes. Flowers creamy, yellow white in panicled cymes. Seeds spiral cases.
Part used: Flowers and leaves
Habitat, cultivation and harvesting Native to Europe, Eastern US and Canada. Prefers damp ditches, river banks, but will tolerate some dryness. Propagated by seed, or root division in autumn or spring. It is harvest from June to August when the flowers are open (sometimes it will flower as late as October or November)
History/folklore/taste/energetics: It tastes like aspirin or almonds , also smells of aspirin due to salicylates. Some say the flowers smell of almonds. The plant was used as a strewing herb in mediaeval times. It was one of the most sacred herbs of the Druids, used to treat malaria and fever. Reputedly used by Cuchulainn. It has been used in brewing, particularly to flavour mead. The flowers can be substituted in the recipe for elder flower cordial.
Any condition which requires reduction of acid in the body
Caution - do not use if allergic to aspirin. This is the plant from which aspirin was originally developed in the nineteenth century (the name aspirin means from Spirea- the old botanical name for meadowsweet).