Meadowsweet Magic

Meadowsweet  in Flower

My ancestral English heart is so delighted with the appearance of two blooms on my small meadowsweet plant. I have been nursing this plant along for years, in a couple of different locations. I grew it originally from seed, so am sure it’s the English meadowsweet, filipendula ulmaria. Every summer I try to keep its roots wet in our semi-arid desert. I added this fairy to the meadowsweet’s location, as a marker against being trampled. This plant’s folk names are Bridewort and Queen of the Meadow, and its mythical history is rich. From the ancient Welsh tales in The Mabinogion comes this passage:

“‘Let us use our magic and enchantments to conjure up a woman out of flowers.’ Math and Gwydyon took the flowers of oak and broom and meadowsweet and from these conjured up the loveliest and most beautiful maiden anyone had ever seen.  And she was baptised – in the way they baptised people at that time – and she was named Blodeuwedd, ‘Face of Flowers’.” Bloduewedd was eventually turned into an owl, and the Welsh word for owl is still this word, which means “Flower Face.” And the stories go on.

Meadowsweet is a medicine plant as well as a magical one. Its healing component is salicylic acid, the original source of aspirin. I haven’t managed to grow enough of it to try and make my own medicine, but it makes my  heart light to see it bloom in its little corner of well-watered shade in the high hot summer of California.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Stuart Habley 07/03/2013, 8:34 am

    Very beautiful.
    Nature—- the queen/king artist.

    Happy 4th of July you two.

    Stuart and Suzanne

  • Gill 07/04/2013, 4:39 am

    I’m in the UK and meadowsweet is everywhere, in damp places.
    I love it – it’s one of my favourite flowers!

    • Cari 07/04/2013, 7:47 am

      I was inspired by seeing a big meadowsweet bush growing in an herb garden here, or I never would have attempted it. It was covered in blooms, and when I learned it made a headache remedy I wanted to try it here. Still trying since we don’t have damp places in the summer unless there is an irrigation leak!

  • Michele 07/04/2013, 8:26 pm

    I do love traditional English plants; they have such lovely names. One of my favorite things about Watership Down has always been the rabbits’ names: Cowslip, Vervain, Groundsel, Chervil. We’ve had the wettest June in 37 years here, so perhaps I should try some meadowsweet. If yours go to seed, will you pass it on?

    A friend of mine recently hired someone to do some yard work, and in the process he pulled all her mullein, considering it a weed. As she said indignantly, “If the Duke of Devonshire can have it growing in his garden paths, why can’t I?”

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