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Wood Avens (Geum urbanum) Identification

Wood Avens, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Edible

Wood Avens are one of those plants we walk over and past every time we go through a woodland, it’s amazing to learn the roots taste like cloves.


Common names

Wood Avens, Clove Root, Colewort, Herb Bennet, and St Benedict’s Herb


Botanical name

Geum urbanum


Meaning of botanical

Geum is derived from the Greek word Geno, which means “pleasant fragrance”, while Urbanum means “of the city”


Known hazards

Uncertain


Could be confused with

Water Avens (Geum rivale), and wild strawberries (Fragaria), but the clove-like scent of the root differentiates from these


Food plant of

The Grizzled Skipper Butterfly caterpillar, which eats Wood Avens


Range and distribution

Europe, the Middle East and North America


Habitat

Found in woodland and garden lawns, particularly in the shade


Video

https://youtu.be/clYYewyegCY


Physical characteristics of Wood Avens


Leaves

Strawberry-like leaves grow in a rosette close to the ground. The leaves gradually turn upwards and the pant produces a tall flower stalk.


Flowers

The flowers are similar in appearance to those of the strawberry but are yellow in colour.


Roots

The roots, when crushed, smell similar to cloves


Folklore, tall tales, and not so folklore:

The roots were once used as a protective amulet against evil spirits, snakes and rabid dogs


Edible use

The roots are used to flavour drinks, syrups, preserves and stews

They have the flavour of cloves and are quite a shock when you first try them as we’ve been walking over them all this time.


Herbal

Has been used to treat dog bites, liver disease, chest infections, gastric upsets, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, toothache, halitosis and heart disease.
If you have a medical complaint, please speak to your doctor

References

Here’s what the woodland trust has to say

Here’s what PFAF say about it

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