Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I have a pink meadowsweet (filipendula rubra, ulmaria) plant in my flowerbed. (It also comes in white.) I have had it for years and only recently became aware of how valuable a plant it is.

It is large and beautiful, as always, but it also has a lot of other properties. The flowers can be used to add a soft almond flavour to wines, beers, jams and jellies. I LOVE almond flavour in anything. Before I developed this severe allergy to sulphite, I used to buy almond sherry and amaretto. They were always my favourite drinks. Now I can add this flavour to my wine too, naturally and without using almonds. There is nothing wrong with using almonds and I had planned to make some almond wine, at some future point. I can now grow my own almond flavour!

In addition to this important property, meadowsweet is also the plant originally used to develop aspirin. In 1897, a chemist called Felix Hoffman discovered salicylic acid could be produced from a waste product of the plant. He was looking for something to help his father's rheumatism and, while the benefits of this compound as a pain-relieving drug had been known for thousands of years, this was the first palatable and acceptable form to be found.

At the time, meadowsweet's official name was Spiraea and the drug that was made from it became known as aspirin. The invented word combined the ''a'' from acetylic acid and the ''spir'' from Spiraea. It contains several powerful salicylates, salts derived from salicylic acid that are chemically similar to aspirin but do not cause stomach bleeding. And, unlike aspirin, it has a positive effect on the digestive system, it protects and soothes the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, reducing excess acidity and alleviating nausea.

It can be used in the treatment of heartburn, hyperacidity, gastritis and peptic ulceration. It is also effective against the organisms causing diphtheria, dysentery and pneumonia. The anti-inflammatory action of Filipendula makes it effective against rheumatic pain without the adverse effects which can cause gastric bleeding, and it also acts to reduce fever.

All the benefits of aspirin without the gastric bleeding!

Meadowsweet likes damp roots and will do well in a bog, but it also does just fine in a normal garden. Mine is in half shade in the flowerbed and we have had a lot of hot dry weather this year. It hasn't even wilted and bloomed beautifully this year! The ideal place to grow it is in a low laying meadow area that tends to retain a bit of moisture. I am planning on making a large area for it in my ditch next to the garden and beside the driveway. I don't use salt so there's no danger of runoff.

I am growing my own natural anti-inflammatory pain killer (and almond flavouring for wine)!

I hope to have these seeds for sale in the farm store this year!

QUOTE: "In my life nothing goes wrong. When things seem to not meet my expectations, I let go of how I think things should be. It’s a matter of not having any attachment to any fixed outcome." - Deepak Chopra


The Japanese Redneck said...

So that's the same spirea that I have growing in my yard?

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Meadowsweet is a specific variety of spirea and not the usual landscaping shrub. It's 4' tall.

Janet Lynn said...

Great information as usual sheryl : ) Look forward to when the seeds are available.

Terry and Linda said...

Do they grow here in my Zero 5 area?


Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Terry and Linda,
I'm in Ontario, Canada, Cdn zone 5b and they do very well here.