Up until the last few centuries, humans relied upon the wild plants they could find to heal themselves. Now, the majority of people have forgotten much of this knowledge and now rely wholly upon the medicine they get over the counter. This is the first episode in a series of posts that will celebrate the wonderful medicine cabinet of the forests. Hopefully, I can convince more people to get outside and realize the benefits of wild medicines. The first plant of the series may not be the most obvious, but it may well be one of the most common!
The Wood Avens
The wood avens common plant that can be found in woodlands, hedgerows, fields, and pretty much everywhere else! The leaves of this perennial plant can be found all year round and are similar to the leaves of a strawberry plant. From May to August, this plant will produce small, 5-petalled yellow flowers. After these flowers drop off, a seed head in the shape of a burr will form. Each seed has a small hook on the end which it uses to catch on to rabbits and other animals for distribution.
The roots of the plant are fine but tough and smell strongly of cloves. The roots are often used as a flavoring in soups or other dishes. They have also been used to flavor ales. When young, the leaves are at their best and can be added to a salad. Alternatively, consider deep-frying the leaves as they puff-up like a prawn cracker and make a great snack! The roots have been used for many centuries to help ease the symptoms of diarrhea, gastric irritation, and headaches. Many believe that when used in spring as a decoction, the wood avens root acts as a purifier and will remove obstructions in the liver. In folklore, the wood avens was even used to scare away evil spirits and rabid dogs! This is not the only strange use the wood avens was associated with. Before it became 'common practice' to bathe regularly, people would use wood avens root to cover up their bad odor!