Geum urbanum – An exploration of Therapeutics

Some time back in the summer, I made a video on Wood Avens (Geum urbanum) and processed some of the root into tincture. I promptly forgot about it until the middle of November. But because of computer problems I only got round to making the video now. So here’s the video on my impressions of Geum.

I wanted this video to be very much an exploration of my sensory experience and interaction with the herb, and I feel I have done that and taken my own impressions from it. With a little input from the classics – in this case Maud Grieve’s herbal, and my sensory exploration I thought it would be worthwhile to start forming a monograph for Geum. I would very much love others to contribute both source of information for, and their own experiences with Geum – do you use it clinically? What have you found? Did your organoleptic or perceptory interaction with the herb differ from mine? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the ‘working’ monograph.

Wood Avens

Geum urbanum (L.), Rosaceae

Geum urbanum illustration

Figure from Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen at

Other Names: Herb Bennet, Colewort, Cloveroot, St. Benedict’s Herb (Latin: Herba Benedicta), Welsh: Mapgoll, Irish: Macall Coille.

Parts Used: Herbaceous Material, Roots. The Roots are the focus of this monograph.

Description (Taken from ‘A Modern Herbal’): It has thin, nearly upright, wiry stems, slightly branched, from 1 to 2 feet in height, of a reddish brown on one side. Its leaves vary considerably in form, according to their position. The radical leaves are borne on long, channelled foot-stalks, and are interruptedly pinnate, as in the Silverweed the large terminal leaflet being wedge-shaped and the intermediate pairs of leaflets being very small. The upper leaves on the stem are made up of three long, narrow leaflets: those lower on the stems have the three leaflets round and full. The stem-leaves are placed alternately and have at their base two stipules (leaf-like members that in many plants occur at the junction of the base of the leaf with the stem). Those of the Avens are very large, about an inch broad and long, rounded in form and coarsely toothed and lobed. All the leaves are of a deep green colour, more or less covered with spreading hairs, their margins toothed.

The rhizomes are 1 to 2 inches long terminating abruptly, hard and rough with many light brown fibrous roots. The flowers, rather small for the size of the plant, are on solitary, terminal stalks. The corolla is composed of five roundish, spreading, yellow petals, the calyx cleft into ten segments – five large and five small – as in the Silverweed. The flowers, which are in bloom all the summer and autumn, often as late as December, are less conspicuous than the round fruitheads, which succeed them, which are formed of a mass of dark crimson achenes, each terminating in an awn, the end of which is curved into a hook.”

Habitat & Cultivation: Wood Avens grows in abundance in shady areas of the garden, in light airy woodland, and grassland. It is often to be found growing along woodland paths.

Constituents: Volatile Oil, in particular Eugenol, Tannins (Ellagitanins, Procyanidins), Flavonoidsm Resins.

Organoleptics & Energetics

Smell: Spicy, woody, clove-like, slightly pungent, aromatic.

Colour (Tincture): Quite red. Rich.

Taste: Mildly bitter, drying, tingling, numbing to the tongue. Subjectively cooling to the tongue and gums.

Perceptual Energetics: Downward moving. Outward moving, relaxing, clearing, soothing, toning, cooling.

Possible Actions: Oral Analgesic, Astringent, Styptic, Febrifuge, Sudorific, Stomachic, Antiseptic, Tonic, Aromatic.


Source Material:

Maud Grieve’s ‘Modern Herbal’:

Effects of Geum urbanum L. root extracts and its constituents on polymorphonuclear leucocytes functions. Significance in periodontal diseases:

Categories: Experimental Herbalism, MuddyBootsHerbalist

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