Meadowsweet is one of my favourite summer plants to gather, with its fluffy creamy coloured flowers it really stands out from the crowds and is a very easy one to identify in the hedgerows.

Meadowsweet gets its name as it was used in the past to make Meadowsweet Mead, one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world!

But it has a multitude of other uses too, not least as a hangover cure for the following morning!

Containing a huge amount of salicylic acid it is a wonderful natural painkiller. Spiraea ulmaria is the plants Latin name, the root of the brand name Aspirin!

Meadowsweet flowers

Every part of the plant is edible, the leaves, flowers and even roots. Though not everyone likes the taste. On my walking tours of Courtown woods, some foraging newbies have said, “its takes like germaline” or it “reminds me of some medicine I recieved as a child” I love the taste of the new leaves myself, and thin, they make a lovely addition to a peppery salad, mixed with rocket, a little red onion and grilled pine nuts.

And Meadowsweet cordial has long been used as a digestive or remedy to soothe an upset tummy. As well as being the go-to herb for indigestion, flatulence, gastric ulcers, gastric reflux, liver disorders, cystitis, diarrhoea in children, rheumatism, cellulitis, bladder stones, and oedema!

Meadowsweet leaves

Easy to identify, the top leave is a triplicate leaf, on a reddish coloured stem, slightly serated and paired leaves growing along the stem. You’ll find it growing in hedgrows, woodlands, and on occasion you might spot it growing tall above crops on organic farms!

To ease a headache, hangover, an upset stomach or ease period pains simple take a handful of leaves and either boil in a teapot or add bruise slightly by crushing in your hands a little and adding them to a cafetiere to make a lovely soothing and very pleasant tea. You can also freeze the tea and drink it later as a chilled drink. In this case I also like to add a mint leaf to the ice cube mould to make a lovely refreshing drink after a hot sticky day. Rehydrated and soothed at the same time!

That same tea can be used as a way to soothe dry itchy skin and was a popular facial toner for centuries! And as someone who walks for a living, I can personally recommend it for use in a foot bath! Ohhh its lovely!

You can blend your meadowsweet with other herbs to boost its powers, for example a meadowsweet and peppermint tea is a wonderful brew to ease digestion problems, ease cramps during a stomach bug or help pass wind!

Mix it with a little warmed apple juice to help with heartburn. Or add a generous spon of honey to Meadowsweet tea to help break a fever and ease a sore throat and headache if you get struck with the sniffles!

Its also worth noting that Meadowsweet can be used in any recipe that uses Elderflower, be it a dessert, Spritzer, cordial or even baked in a pie!

If you want to store it for the winter months, I like to dry it out, and powder it, treating it like tea leaves. Kept in an airtight container it should do you all winter leaving you ready to make a new batch the coming Spring and Summer!