MEADOWSWEET (Filipendula ulmaria) is one of the sacred ritualistic herbs of the Druids. It has had many uses -- as a strewing herb (it was Queen Elizabeth I's favorite), to flavor mead, and as a medicinal. Sometimes confused with other plants (it is also known as Queen of the Meadow as is Joe Pye weed), this is a perennial herb of the Rosaceae family and its natural home is damp meadows. Grows throughout Europe and western Asia and has now become naturalized in America. The 3-7 foot stems are reddish in color; the leaves a dark green with white downy underside, and its graceful, creamy white flowers which appear from summer to fall. The whole herb is intensely fragrant, and it has long been used to flavor wine, beer, vinegars, as a tea (delicious!) and in potpourri. A natural black dye can be obtained from the roots using copper mordant. Perennial. 50 Seeds.
MEDICINAL: The herb contains salicylic acid (and was the basis for the formulary of aspirin) and is a good natural remedy for headaches, tannins, flavone-glycosides and essential oils. It is an effective medicinal against pneumonia and dysentary, but should not be given to people who are allergic to aspirin!
HOW TO GROW: Grows in partial shade and prefers a moist position, though it is not essential if kept properly watered. Lovely along paths, because the foliage is low-growing, but you may need to stake the flowerstalks when they appear. Self-seeds readily.