Wood avens, or herb bennet, (Geum urbanum) is a woodland member of the rose family (Rosaceae).
Curiously, the plant’s Latin name urbanum means ‘city dweller’ which is where this wild flower of hedges and woods was also once found.
The generic name Geum derives from the Greek geno meaning an agreeable fragrance.
A plant with upright, hairy, branching stems bearing small, five-petalled, yellow flowers with three-lobed, greyish leaves. The round, brown seeds are spiky and the roots are aromatic and spicy.
Habitat and Distribution
Shaded areas, woodlands, scrub, hedgerow, roadsides, gardens
Parts Used For Food
Leaves and roots.
Spring and Autumn
Food Uses of Wood Avens
The roots and rhizomes are aromatic with the spicy scent of cloves. Add to flavour soups, broths, stews, sauces, fruit pies and stewed fruit. Combine the root with orange peel and add to wine or other mulled drinks, gin and beer. Alternatively, boil in milk to make an Indian-style chai tea. The leaves can also be infused to make a hot, mildly spicy cordial. The dried plant can be used as seasoning and the leaves added to spicy salads.
Nutritional Profile of Wood Avens
There is little data on the nutritional value of wood avens, however, the aromatic roots do contain eugenol – the main chemical constituent of clove oil, the essential oil distilled from cloves (Syzygium aromaticum).
Wood Avens Recipes
Herbal Medicine Uses of Wood Avens
The roots and rhizomes have been used in traditional herbal medicine for treating various problems: gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhoea, dyspepsia, constipation, indigestion, stomach upsets, and appetite loss; oral disease, such as throat and mouth infections; skin complaints, such as chilblains and haemorrhoids.
Traditionally, the herb’s aromatic roots were dried and used as a flea repellent or placed among clothes to deter moths.
Because of its high tannin content, some texts recommend that the herb is not used in large quantities. It may be safest to avoid during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
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