Meadowsweet - the sweet scented flower of high Summer

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is a native perennial herb found throughout most of Europe and Western Asia. A member of the Rose family, it grows in damp meadows and open woodland, in ditches and bogs, at the edges of ponds and on riverbanks.

Meadowsweet is often found in roadside verges and in bogs

Meadowsweet is a graceful and fragrant plant with fern-like foliage and distinctive creamy-white flowers from June to September. The plant is hairless and furrowed, with stems growing erect 60cm to 120cm tall - they have a reddish to purple tinge. The leaves are pinnate and dark green on the upper side and silvery underneath, and the plant bears delicate tufts of sweet-smelling pale yellow flowers which are small and numerous and bear 5 petals and 7-20 stamens each.

The small, numerous flowers of Meadowsweet bear 5 petals that carry 7-20 stamens each

The leaves of Meadowsweet have a heavy almond-like aroma reminiscent of marzipan, and the flowers have a strong sweet smell. Despite the flowers producing no nectar, the flowerheads of Meadowsweet are frequently visited by bees attracted by the heavy scent – this serves to fertilise the plant which is heavy with pollen.

The pinnate, fern-like leaves of Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet is the herb that aspirin was created from as it contains high levels of salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin which is used for its anti–inflammatory properties. The plant is often used to treat reflux and gastric ulcers, but if you are allergic to aspirin, avoid using Meadowsweet.

The delicate tufts of Meadowsweet flowers attract bees with their heavy scent

‘Meadowsweet’ is thought to be derived from ‘mead sweet’ as it was once used to flavour mead, an ancient alcoholic drink made from honey. The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavour, the green parts having a similar aromatic character to the flowers. You can use the flowers the same way as elderflower and transform them into tasty wines, cordials, sorbets, jams, desserts and sauces. The flowers and young leaves make a delicious tea, and fresh flowers can also be dipped in batter and deep-fried to make fritters. In the Olden days, the plant was used as a strewing herb to give rooms a pleasant aroma, and a natural black dye can be obtained from the roots by using a copper mordant.

The stem of Meadowsweet has a red to purple tinge

Is there something you particularly like about Meadowsweet? Or you have a special memory attached to it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments Xx

📷 AnRo0002

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