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WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Lady's mantle.

Photograph by Dal.

Lady's mantle -Alchemilla species.

The lady's mantle belongs to the rose family Rosaceae and of the Order Rosales. It is placed in the genus Alchemilla. 

Alchemilla is a genus of herbaceous perennials many of which are popular garden varieties.World wide there are about 33 known species  with the majority of them found in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Many of these species are clump forming.

The genus Alchemilla  derives from the Arabic word Alkemelych {alchemy} alluding to the supposed magical properties of the plant.

Droplets of water  on foliage   photograph by Dal

The more observant among us will have noted that there is often small, but clearly visible, droplets of water that appear on the leaves , even when, other plant species in the vicinity are bone dry. This led to the belief that the water had to be special and was some times referred to as celestial water. The collection of droplets are due to a process called guttation when the leaf expels excess water to the surface by way of tiny glands.

Description of the lady's mantle.

The rootstock is perennial of a stout nature and somewhat confined in length. From this rootstock arise the slender erect {but weak} stems. The whole plant is covered by soft hairs.The lower leaves are radical and are quite large, borne on long,slender stalks. The general outline is a semi-circular or kidney shape with 7-9 shallow lobes that give the leaf a scalloped appearance. They are finely toothed along the margins.

The upper leaves are similar in form but much smaller and have hardly any stalks or they are absent altogether. There are leaf like stipules, also toothed, where the leaf embraces the stem. 

Components of the lady's mantle

The flowers are numerous and small and of a yellow green colour, in loose clusters located at the end of branching stems, each flower is on a very short stalk. The flowers have no petals.

Historical medicinal uses of lady's mantle

Culpeper the 17th century herbalist in his book " The complete Herbal" describes the Lady's mantle in the following way--" It hath many leaves rising from the root, standing upon long , hairy footstalks, being almost round and a little cut around the edges into 8-10 parts, making it seem like a star with so many corners or points, and dented round about, of a light colour rather hard in handling, and folded or plaited and a little hairy, as the stalk is also, which rises up among them to the height of 2-3 feet and being weak, is not able to stand upright. It flowereth in May and June. Of its medicinal virtues Culpeper wrote--" Lady's mantle is very proper for inflammed wounds and to stay bleedings, vomitings, fluxes of all sorts, bruises by falls and ruptures; and such women or maids as have great flagging breasts, causing them to grow less and hard, being both drunk and outwardly applied."

he goes on to say " It quickly healeth green wounds not suffering any corruption to remian behind and cureth old sores, though fistulous and hollow"

Long before Culpepers days there are records of some herbals stating that if you place the herb under the pillow at night it will promote quiet sleep.

The Family Herbal printed in the 1800s  states " ---the root is the most valuable part; a decoction of it fresh taken up is excellent remedy for the overflowing of the mesnes, for bloody fluxes, and all other bleedings. Dried and powdered it answers the same purpose, and it is also good against common purgings. The women in the north of England apply the leaves to their breasts , helping them to recover their form after they have been heavy with milk, hence it has got the name of Lady's mantle"

 

Small yellow green flowers of the lady's mantle

Photograph by Dal

Modern day- medicinal uses

Lady's mantle has astringent and styptic properties and is also a sedative. It has been used to treat cramp and painful menustration.

The dried flowers and leaves can be made into teas and extracts. The Infusions can be utilised in may ways, as a tea, as a skin wash, as a gargle or for compresses. The infusion taken as a warm tea is recommended for insomnia and or anxiety, it said to relax and to have a soothing affect. The infusion used as a skin lotion/wash helps to clean wounds and to stop infections. 

The infusion is  taken for loss of appetite and also to alleviate the runs.

The forager collects the leaves to be added to salads the leaves for this purpose should be young and fresh. 

Anyone thinking of using herbs for the first time is well advised to read Wild Herb Advise. Click on the banner on the right hand side of this page. 

Garden varieties.

There are many garden varieties that can be bought fro various outlets such as Achimilla Conjuncta a summer flowering species. A.mollis {summer} A. xanthochlora {vulgaris} Another summer flowering plant.

Most varieties self seed readily and they tend to be invasive if neglected. Established plants may be divided every 3-5 years.  They are relatively pest and disease free. Maintenance is also easy cut the flowers before they seed to prevent them becoming invasive.  

Reuse of images. 

The images on this page may be reused. However, the name of the author must be attributed along with any relevant license.

Associated pages. Click on the content banners at the top of this page. Scroll down to view.

Wild Herb Advise.

Nature's pharmacy

Plant basic biology 1,2,3, 4

All other species of flora that feature on this site can be viewed by clicking on the relevant content banners {they are all grouped together}

Poisonous plants.1,2,3,. Foxglove. Hemlock and Hemlock water dropwort,  respectively.

Common plant names explained.

Latin names explained.

Flora via Links. Click on the links banner at the top of this page . Scroll down to relevant box. Click this is a direct link to the article. Includes the series Past and Present Medicinal Uses.

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