Latin Name: Agrimonia eupatoria of the family Rosaceae (Rose)
Alternate Name(s): Church Steeples, Cockeburr, Sticklewort, Philanthropos, Cockburr, Liverwort, Stickwort, Agrimonia, Harvest Lice, White Tansy, Rat's Tail
Description: Perennial herb that grows to about 3 or 4 feet high. The paired leaves are pretty with green topsides and silvery tones underneath. It has terminal spikes of small yellow star-shaped flowers. It is generally in bloom from early June until late September. Many have compared the pleasant scent to apricots while some liken it to lemons or citrus with the leaves retaining the scent even after being dried. The plant has seedpods that have little hooked ends that will grab onto anything that passes by (thus many of it's alternate names).
Habitat: Agrimony grows wild in Europe, Canada, and the United States. It prefers part to full sun, average soil, and regular watering. Will survive drier weather once established. It is shown to be hardy in Zones 5-9. Can be found in the wild.
Growing: Reported to be Moderately Easy to grow, Agrimony can be propagated from seed or from root cuttings. Root cuttings do well in the fall or spring, but if starting from seed Agrimony must be chilled for 4 to 6 weeks before germination. Seeds can then be sown once the ground temperature remains above 55 degrees. Organic blood or bone meal can be added to help the young plants start strong. The soil should be kept moist (not soggy) until the new seedlings emerge. To keep the roots moist and retain water, add mulch early in the growing stage. Once the plants have taken hold and are full-size, they can survive short dry spells.
Harvesting: Depends upon which part you're using and for what purpose. Gather the leaves and blossoms early on a dry, sunny day after the dew has evaporated. You will process and use the fresh material immediately. To dry Agrimony, harvest as above and then tie with string or use a rubber band to contain a small bunch. (It sometimes helps to strip the leaves near the base of the stem before tying the bunch together.) Hang the bunch upside-down, to dry in a dark, well-ventilated area. If using the root for dye, dig some (leave some if you wish to have a plant next year) up, wash off all soil and debris, then cut into small pieces and use immediately.
Uses: To stop bleeding/coagulent, for diarrhea, easing bed-wetting, clearing up infections – fungal and bacterial, skin astringent/toner, diuretic, jaundice and liver function ailments, wound dressing, yellow dye
Notes: Agrimony is a very astringent plant. Many use it for pimples and other facial complaints. While it is used for stopping diarrhea, it can go to the opposite extreme and intensify constipation – be warned. It is still used in modern Chinese medicine for heavy bleeding (menstrual or other) as it is a very effective coagulant. It is known there as Xian He Cao. Agrimony is also used in sleep pillows to aid in obtaining a deep rest (hence the little ditty at the start of the post which they believed in Medieval times). In Medieval times, Agrimony was used extensively by healers on the battlefields.
I am planning on growing it to experiment with it as a dye plant as it is reported to make a beautiful yellow gold color. I understand that the deepness of the color varies with when you harvest the plant; the later in the growing season - the darker the dye. This will be the first time I've tried to grow this plant. We shall see how this plays out for my projects.
Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp dried Agrimony (you can use any or all parts of the plant for infusing). Brew for about 10-15 minutes and then strain. Can be flavored with honey as the Agrimony by itself can be a little bitter. Not to be taken more than once a day.
Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational, informational, and recreational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other substances.