Geum rivale L.
Other names: Water avens
General: perennial with short to rather extensive, scaly
rootstocks. Flowering stems mostly 40-60 cm tall, mostly
stiff-hairy but becoming softly short-hairy above.
Leaves: the basal ones several, up to 30 cm long,
pinnately divided, the leaflets mostly 7-15, once or twice
round- to sharp-toothed, the 3 at the end much larger,
obovate to wedge-shaped, up to 10 cm long. Stem leaves
2-5, alternate, reduced, the stipules leafletlike, the blades
pinnatifid below to deeply 3-lobed above.
Flowers: bell- to urn-shaped, about 3 to 7 in an open
cluster, the flowers nodding in the bud but becoming erect.
Calyx reddish-purple, the 5 lobes lanceolate, pointed, about
10 mm long, erect. Petals 5, rounded, yellow to pinkish,
not spreading, mostly 2-3 mm shorter than the sepals.
Stamens 100 or more. Styles bent at joint near tip.
Flowering time: Late June-July.
Fruits: achenes, elliptic, 3-4 mm long, stiff-hairy, the
lower (persistent) joint of the style 6-8 mm long, stiff-hairy
below, hairless above, hooked at the tip, the upper segment
ultimately dropped, sparsely stiff-hairy, 3-4 mm. long.
Stream banks, lake shores, bogs, and wet meadows, in w.
and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. and Alberta to WA, s. in
the Rocky Mts. to NM, e. to MO, IN, NJ, and in Eurasia.
Edible and Medicinal plant: see below.
(click on image for full size)
(click on images for full size)
The dried or fresh root of purple avens can be boiled in water to make a well-tasting chocolate-like drink.
It can also be used as a seasoning. It is best harvested in the spring or autumn but can be used all year
The root is of purple avens is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, has agents that produce contraction
in living tissue, induce perspiration, and can reduce fevers. It aids and improves the action of the stomach,
is astringent that stops bleeding by contracting the blood vessels, and is a tonic. Purple avens was used
medicinally by the Iroquois, Malecite, and Micmac Indians. A decoction of the root was taken, especially
by children, for dysentery, coughs and colds. A decoction of roots was boiled four times and used for
the spitting of blood. An infusion of the root was used by children with diarrhea, and it was taken for
The dried root repels moths.
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