Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
Common English Name: Agrimony, stickwort, church steeples.
Common name in other languages:
– German: Odermennig.
– Dutch: Leverkruid, agrimonie.
– Spanish: Agrimonia, hierba de las heridas, hierba de San Guillermo, hierba del podador, mermasangre, té del norte, hierba bacera.
– Catalan: Agrimònia, setsegníes, herba de la sang, serverola, herba de Sant Antoni.
– Portuguese: Agrimónia, eupatória dos gregos.
– Gallego: Agrimónia, eupatória dos gregos.
– French: Eupatoire, aigremoine.
– Italian: Agrimonia, erba de andata, erba de Sant Guglielmo.
Scientific Name: Agrimonia eupatoria. The word “Agrimonia” derives from the Greek “Argemone” which means “white spot remedy for the eyes.” “Eupatoria” comes from a Greek king named Mithritriades Eupator, who was very fond of medicinal plants. Others think it comes from the word “Hepatorium” = remedy for the liver.
Habitat: humid temperate grasslands in Europe, Asia, North America (Canada and U.S.) and North Africa. Very frequently as a cultivated plant. Flowering occurs from spring to late summer (May-September)
Drawing of the plant
Description of agrimony
Perennial deciduous herb of the rose family – Rosaceae. Erect, up to 1 m high, arising from a rhizomatous root, large, thick, fibrous, dark brown and with astringent taste. Plant bright green, with a slight aromatic lemon scent.
The flower spike of the liverwort recalls the shape of the steeple of a church, hence, in English, it is known as “church steeples”.
The flowers are rich in pollen and are visited by numerous insects, especially bees and flies.
Basal leaves numerous, pinnately compound, 5 to 7 leaflets with serrated margins. Caulinar leaves less abundant, smaller and less divided.
The leaves of agrimony are highly desired by the caterpillars of butterflies.
When the flowers mature, they produce dry fruits, which are included in a kind of cup with hooked edges that attach to the animal fur or people clothing. In this way, the plant can disperse its seeds far from the mother plant to grow in a different spot.
It is the ability these structures have to hook the reason why in English it is known as “Stickwort”
Components of agrimony
– Acids: ascorbic, caffeic, citric, chlorogenic, ellagic, stearic, ferulic, gentisic, malic, nicotinic, palmitic, ursolic (Plant) Silicic (Fruits)
– Tannins: catechic (Leaves)
– Flavonoids: Apigenin, quercetin, catechins, hyperoside, kaempferol, luteolin, rutin, vainillin (Plant) quercitrin (Leaves)
– Fat (Seeds)
– Phytosterols: Beta-sisosterol
TRADITIONAL USES OF AGRIMONY
Agrimony, traditional and magical herb
A detail of the inflorescence
Agrimony is a plant that has been used since ancient times. The ancient Greeks considered it a medicinal and magical plant. From the point of view of magic, it was used to neutralize the spells. It has been used medicinally especially to stop bleeding and heal wounds.
It appears in the classical writings. Dioscorides said about it that its leaves smeared with lard served to heal wounds, while the decoction of the seeds or leaves in wine were adequate for the liver or to cure snake bites.
In the Middle Ages it was widely used to heal the wounds of the arms, hence, in Spanish, it also known as ” Hierba de las heridas”, meaning “Herb for the wounds.”
Farmers and loggers often used it to disinfect cuts made with farm tools or cutting tools, such as plows, hoes, shears, axes, etc. Hence the name in Spanish of ” Hierba del podador (” Trimmer grass”)
When firearm were first invented, agrimony was used to heal the wounds of the bullets of the musket and prevent these became infected.
The hemostatic ability of this herb, that is its power to contract the tissue and stop the outflow of blood is recognized in Spanish name “mermasangre.” (= ” blood decreaser”)
Its popular Spanish name ” Te del norte” (= ” Tea of the North”) responds to the common use by the peoples of northern Europe, as a substitute for real tea, since the latter was too expensive for their income.
It has also traditionally been used for insomnia. To this end, people used to introduced the dried leaves of the plant within the pillow.
A less common use is described in the Bald’s Leechbook, a medical remedy book written in Old English in the ninth century AD. According to this manuscript, the liverwort could be used to cure impotence. This should be done with a decoction of the herb in milk. In case of an “excessive virility,” according to this book, it could be cooked with beer, in which case, it had the opposite effect.
French people have used it and are still using it, along with other herbs, to make a tonic tea to be taken in the spring.
New and Complete Encyclopedia, published in New York in 1805 described it thus:
|” Common agrimony, grows natural in the woods. It is eaten by sheep and goats, but refused by horses and swine. The Canadians are said to use an infusion of the root in burning fevers with great success. An infusion of six ounces of the crown of the root in a quart of boiling water sweetened with honey, and half a pint of it drank three times a-day is an effectual cure for the jaundice, according to Dr. Hsl. He advises to begin with a vomit, afterwards to keep the belly soluble, and to continue the medicine as long as any symptom of the disease remains. It is said to be a detergent, and strengthener of the viscera. Herein it is recommended in scorbutic disorders, in debility of the intestines. Digested in whey, it is a useful diet drink for the spring-season, not ungrateful for the palate or stomach. Dr Alston says, that the best of administering this herb, is in powder, when the intention is to corroborate; and that if thus taken in a large quantity, we may expect many of the effects of the bark from it in agues.”|
Externally, the current use of the liverwort focuses on respiratory tract infections such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, etc. (More information on the “Properties agrimony” in the listing above)
Main curative properties of agrimony
Other agrimony properties:
– Agrimony, edible plant: with the agrimony seeds, when dried and ground, flour is obtained which has been used as food in times of scarcity.
– Agrimony, dyeing plant: Agrimony can be used as a dyeing plant. The whole plant has been used in some countries to dye wool yellow. If harvested in September, the plant produces a light yellow tint. When the collection is done later, it produces a darker yellow.
– Agrimony, a plant for tanning leather . The richness of this plant in tannins makes it suitable for tanning leather.
– Agrimony, an ornamental plant: Liverwort is a plant that can be grown easily. The beauty of its leaves and long spikes of yellow flowers make it suitable as a garden plant.
More information on agrimony.