No. 1 Botanicals – Meadowsweet, Queen of the Meadow (Filipendula ulmaria (L) Maxim Rosaceae)
A tall upright darkish-green perennial with clusters of creamy-white flowers, which are initially sweet scented but have a medicinal, almost aspirin-like, note beneath. Both flowers and leaves have been employed in ancient herbal medicine, and Meadowsweet is one of the sacred herbs of the Druids.
Though Meadowsweet’s preferred habitat is moist ground and meadows, it gained its name from the tradition of adding the flowering tops to flavour mead and wine – Meadsweet not Meadowsweet in other words. “One French source observes that the addition of the flowers to vin ordinaire gives it the bouquet of a finer wine” notes Barker, somewhat wryly1.
Meadowsweet – as suggested by its common name – has a sweet and refreshing taste. The scientific name was once Spiraea and is where bitter aspirin gets its name. Aspirin was developed from salicylic acid; isolated from meadowsweet and white willow. Ancient wisdom suggests relief from headache simply by inhaling the aroma of the flowers2, and the addition of Meadowsweet to mead or wine might well reduce the chances of a subsequent hangover!
The sweet, cloud-like flowers are used to flavour cordials and jellies. Drink No1 Meadowsweet Water at the gym, when travelling, or whenever you’re feeling hot and bothered. It’s a perfect partner for fish, dessert, and fruit dishes
- The Medicinal Flora of Britain and Northwestern Europe. Barker J. (2001) Winter Press. W. Wickham, UK.
- Healing Threads: Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands. Beith M. (1995) Polygon. Edinburgh.