Gathering Avens – A Herb of Many Talents

Avens – I don’t use large quantities but I would not be without it.

Today I harvested a little Avens (Geum urbanum).  Also known as Herb Bennet, it grows plentifully in my garden so I don’t have to go far for it.  According to herbal lore this plant is collected when the flowers are at their height, but I prefer to gather it now when the foliage is at its most abundant.  As the plant comes into flower the leaves are sparcer.  At this time gathering becomes much less efficient because it seems that all you have in your basket are wiry stems and prickly seed heads.

Avens is a member of the Rosaceae and is closely related to Potentilla.  It is not surprising then that it is predominantly used as an astringent.  It also contains aromatic compounds, eugenol in particular, which give the roots a clove-like scent when freshly dug.  The aromatic compounds combined with the astringency of the plant makes it good to use in digestive troubles such as diarrhoea, dysentery and mucous colitis.

I gather Avens just before it flowers when the foliage is abundant and lush.

This is a very gentle herb and it is ideal for use in children.  It can be given as an infusion to help ease those tummy upsets which are an inevitable part of going to school and building up a healthy immune system.  It can also be used to settle nausea and allay vomiting so is great for making little ones feel better.

In times gone by it was known as the Blessed Herb (Herba Benedicta) since it had the reputation of being able to ward off evil spirits and venomous beasts.  It was worn as an amulet. The Ortus Sanitatis, printed in 1491, states: ‘Where the root is in the house, Satan can do nothing and flies from it, wherefore it is blessed before all other herbs, and if a man carries the root about him no venomous beast can harm him.’

The roots are used to deter moths in wardrobes.

I hope that I am not tempting fate to pronounce that we do not have a problem with evil spirits or venomous beasts in this household but then to be fair it grows abundantly all around the house so it may be doing its job perfectly! I do make use of the roots to ward off moths in wardrobes though.  The clove like scent in the roots will deter them if you tie bundles of dried roots and hang them amongst your clothes.  Dry the roots carefully to ensure that the aromatic compounds are preserved.

I may  not use a huge amount of Avens in my practice, but it is a herb that I would not want to be without and I gather it every year at around this time.

To find out more about Myrobalan Clinic please visit

Geum urbanum flower


Geum urbanum fruit


About Myrobalan Clinic

I'm Lucy, a registered medical herbalist with a full time high street practice in Castle Cary, Somerset, UK. I combine Tibetan Medicine with Western Herbal Medicine in order to help my patients treat the underlying reasons for their illness, rather than just suppressing the symptoms. I grow or gather around 75% of the herbs that I work with in my practice, and I make every single tincture, capsule, tea blend and topical treatment that I prescribe to patients. I'm an absolutely passionate proponent of self sufficient herbalism for its many benefits; including those relating to the environment, our connection with herbs and for the exceptional quality of medicines that it enables us to produce. My book, 'Self Sufficient Herbalism', published by Aeon Books, explains why as well as providing a detailed step by step guide as to how to go about this way of working. I love my job - it's so rewarding to see people taking control of their health and feeling healthier and more positive.
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