Agrimonies – Agrimonia SPP.: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Stickseed of Wild Plants

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Agrimonies (agrimonia spp.) are another oft overlooked edible and medicinal herb. Starting around medieval times common agrimony was a popular heal all. For sometime it was available at apothecaries or pharmacies. Despite its decline in popularity it is still used by herbalists today.

Like the lettuces we posted two weeks ago, most agrimonies found in Ontario are native. They are a vastly overlooked plant in native landscaping. That may be due to the sticky burdock-like seeds that get all over your pants in the fall. Tall hairy AKA hooked agrimony (agrimonia gryposepala) is uncommon around Haliburton, Ontario. It can be found in moist open or sparsely treed areas. But I see it often along bushy trails and in wild lawns, especially in the borders and thickets. It may be fairly common here nowadays.

The rare woodland (a. striata) is also native around Algonquin Park. Ontario has at least six agrimonies present and the only one that isn’t native is the common agrimony (agrimonia eupatoria).

Tall hairy agrimony (agrimonia gryposepala)
Tall hairy agrimony (agrimonia gryposepala)

When it comes to the literature (which is predominantly Eurocentric) the nonnative common agrimony (a. eupatoria) is most cited. This European agrimony has extra long hairs on its stalks and fruits.

Edible Uses of Agrimonies

The young to flowering aerial parts can be used for tea or to add fragrance to a tea blend.

Medicinal Uses of Agrimonies

Agrimony is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Integumentary
  • Digestive
  • Nervous
  • Urinary
  • Respiratory

Medicinal tags include Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Diuretic and Styptic. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes for a mild astringent tonic, usually in a blend with other tonic herbs. Common and tall hairy agrimonies are most useful for this. Typical astringent uses like tea for diarrhea, salve for slow healing wounds, or as a gargle for a sore throat apply.

Some unrelated plants have the folk name agrimony as they have the same properties, including a bidens known as “bastard agrimony”.

Agrimony has many specialized uses too. Herbalists may prescribe it in blends for digestive and liver support, like for mucous colitis or gallstones. It may also show up for urinary support from bedwetting to passing kidney stones. It’s even used for breath holding anxiety. All that said, it’s not too surprising that it was once hailed an all heal.

Alternative Uses of Stickwort

The whole plant makes a yellow dye. The older the plant, the deeper the colour.

Burrs of the tall hairy agrimony (agrimonia gryposepala)
Burrs of the tall hairy agrimony (agrimonia gryposepala)

Growing Agrimonia SPP.

Our most common local native, tall hairy agrimony (agrimonia gryposepala), likes partial shade. The seeds can be collected accidentally or purposefully (take no more than 10% if you can help it), or bought from native plant nurseries. You can plant them directly in the soil after the last frost.

The plants will be pollinated by bees and flies, and will feed other insects too. Including the caterpillars of some moths. If you’re looking for something unique and native to plant that gets overlooked by most, this’ll do! Boneset, the native wild chive, native lettuces and fleabanes including horseweed come to mind as much overlooked too.


And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

#ads in References

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A Modern Herbal (Volume 1, A-H): The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with Their Modern Scientific Uses

Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes

The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published (Dover Cookbooks)

Indian Herbalogy of North America: The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

The Green Pharmacy: The Ultimate Compendium Of Natural Remedies From The World’s Foremost Authority On Healing Herbs

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies

Reader’s Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants

Herbal Therapeutics: Specific Indications for Herbs & Herbal Formulas (8th Edition)

The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments

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