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[An Archaeologist’s Guide to British Species] #2: Agrimony

January 12, 2021

In 2021, I am blogging an A-Z compendium of human interactions with species in the British landscape. A list of references for information used in this series can be found here. The second species is a wildflower that gives us a yellow dye and which has medicinal uses.

Scientific illustration of Agrimony
Agrimonia eupatoria. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9178

Agrimony

Agrimonia eupatoria L.

Also known as lemmade, bunchflower, church steeples or sticklewort

A perennial plant which bears long spikes of small starry yellow flowers in summer and autumn. Found on roadsides and in hedgebanks throughout Britain and Ireland, avoiding acid soils and particularly shaded environments. Its pinnate leaves are apricot-scented, and are used to make a herbal tea which has been used by herbalists in the treatment of liver complaints. The plant is also a source of tannin, and the young tops have been used to produce a yellow dye. Archaeologically, the hooked structure surrounding the fruit, the hypanthia, are sometimes preserved along with seeds.

See Agrimonia eupatoria fruits and seeds on the Digital Seed Atlas (opens new tab)

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