Meadowmat wildflower species: Meadowsweet
Meadowsweet: Filipendula ulmaria
Meadowsweet, also known as mead wort and bride wort, is a wild, perennial herbaceous plant. Its Latin name, filipendula ulmaria, relates to it being of the genus filipendula, a genus of twelve species of herbaceous, flowering plants that are native to the Northern Hemisphere. Ulmaria comes from the leaves bearing a resemblance to that of the elm tree.
What does Meadowsweet look like?
The stem of the meadowsweet generally reaches between one and two metres in height, is furrowed and angular in appearance, and red to purple in colour. The elm-like leaves have dark green uppers, and downy, paler undersides. The terminal leaflets of the meadowsweet are fairly large at 4-8cm in length, and commonly contain between three and five lobes. The white wild flowers of this plant are closely clustered and have a very strong, sweet fragrance.
The meadowsweet is a wild, native species to most of Europe and Western Asia, as well as Eastern parts of the USA and areas of Canada. This plant will add height to your Meadowmat, and is most commonly found in the wild in damp meadows, particularly in ditches and bogs, on river banks, and at the edges of ponds and lakes.
Meadowsweet is a hardy plant that can brave the harshest conditions that the temperate climates in which it resides can throw at it. It survives relatively unscathed all year round, with it's greatest enemy being drought.
The graceful wildflowers generally appear from early June to September, brightening up the marshlands and riverbanks. A common addition to the meadowsweet is the aptly named meadowsweet rust gall, a bright, rusty orange fungus that is transferred via the air and generally attaches to the undersides of the leaves, as well as the stalks. This, although striking to look at, causes some swelling and reduces the survival rate of seedlings.
Meadowsweet, a good plant for wildlife gardeners
Meadowsweet is known for attracting an array of fauna. Bees are particularly fond of this plant's sweet, inviting aromas. Butterflies and moths are also regular visitors, bringing along their predators, such as small birds and bats.
Traditional uses of Meadowsweet
Possibly the most fascinating thing about meadowsweet is its many uses as a medicine and tonic. Known to have been one of the plants held as sacred by the ancient druids, the meadowsweet has a wide range of purported medicinal uses. These include use as a diuretic, as an anti-inflammatory, as a supportive therapy for the common cold, and it is thought to be particularly useful for easing symptoms of arthritis.