Meadowsweet - Filipendula ulmaria
Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
Meadowsweet is an easy to grow perennial with many medicinal uses and a tasty wintergreen flavor in tea and tincture. In my opinion it is underutilized here in the United States, I have learned about its medicinal virtues by reading English herbalists work. I use it for heartburn, peptic ulcers, and upper GI heat. Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria, Roasaceae) contains methyl salicylates, which impart its characteristic wintergreen aroma and taste. Similar to its pharmaceutical counterparts, meadowsweet is used for inflammation and pain. Meadowsweet is often in my formulas for sore muscles, arthritis, and pulled muscles. Aspirin was named for meadowsweet's former genus, Spirea, one of the original sources of salicylate isolation.
Interestingly, plants may produce methyl salicylates to attract beneficial insects, which in turn prey on the insects which are eating the plants. They may also serves as plant pheromones, or airborne hormones, used to let the "neighborhood" know about local plant pathogen presence.
I find it fascinating to consider the plant's perspective and evolutionary purpose in manufacturing the compounds we use as medicine.
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JULIET BLANKESPOOR founded the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in 2007 and serves as the school’s primary instructor and Creative Director. She's been a professional plant-human matchmaker for close to three decades. Juliet caught the plant bug when she was nineteen and went on to earn a degree in Botany. She's owned just about every type of herbal business you can imagine: an herbal nursery, a medicinal products business, a clinical practice, and now, an herbal school.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession with her writing and photography in her online programs and here on her personal blog, Castanea. She's writing her first book: Cultivating Medicinal Herbs: Grow, Harvest, and Prepare Handcrafted Remedies from Your Home Garden. Juliet and her houseplants share a home with her family and herb books in Asheville, North Carolina.
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