Common Agrimony. Source: Wikimedia Images
Other Names Common Agrimony, Cockleburr, Cocklebur, Church Steeples, Stickwort, Sticklewort, Philanthropos, Ackerkraut, Agrimonia, Funffing, Herbe de Saint-Guillaume, Liverwort, Acrimony, Harvest lice, Aigremoine, Odermennig, Agrimonia, Herba agrimoniae, Agrimoniae herba, Burr Marigold, Garclive, Fairy’s Wand
Agrimony is a perennial native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa that has naturalized to most of the US and Canada. It grows in open areas, fields and waste places and hedgerows. Yellow flower spikes appear on a downy stem about 20 inches tall around Midsummer and continue on through September. The seeds that follow are contained within burr-like cases, which stick to everything. The leaves are downy and serrated and pinnately divided with less division in the smaller lower leaves. The leaves are fuzzy with more fuzz on the bottom giving the undersides a silvery appearance. The root is a black woody rhizome. The entire plant has a sweet citrusy scent.
History and Folklore
The Anglo-Saxons called it Garclive and used it to treat wounds, skin blemishes, warts, and snakebite . An early herbal remedy used a mix of agrimony, human blood, and pounded frogs to treat internal bleeding .
Agrimony has long been regarded as powerfully magical, and one of its earliest common names is ‘fairy’s wand’. In an 18th-century Scottish witch trial, agrimony was mentioned as a witch’s cure for people who were ‘elf-shot,’ or suffering unexplained illness .
Agrimony will grow well throughout most of North America. A perennial herb, it should be sown from seed in winter, or they may be stratified by putting them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks before spring planting. Agrimony seeds are suitable for Midwinter planting ceremonies.
Agrimony prefers well-drained soil and full to partial sun and tolerates dry spells well.
Harvesting & Storage:
Agrimony can be harvested at midsummer or when the flowers just come into bloom. Cut the whole plant and hang outside to dry. Or pluck the leaves as needed.
Agrimony is an invasive perennial so you’ll need to keep on top of it to make sure it doesn’t take over.
Agrimony is useful for spellwork for those who need to explore their true feelings and to help balance the emotions applied to a situation.
The plant is also used in protection spells, to help build a psychic shield, to reduce the influence of another’s negativity and to banish negative energies and spirits. It is said to reverse harmful spells cast on you, causing them to rebound on the sender. Use in all protective sachets, spells and medicine bags. It can also be burned in banishing rituals or as a wash to cleanse the aura.
It is especially useful in healing magic as it enhances the strength of all healing spells, especially at a distance. You could use it in a ritual bath before beginning, as a wash for your tools, burn it as an offering or fumigant or simply decorate your alter with it.
Agrimony can be added to pillows, or placed under the pillow to ensure a night of deep, dreamless sleep. This is especially useful for those who are too troubled to sleep properly. This is an old traditional use for this herb, as stated in a traditional Old English rhyme:
This plant works well in a perennial border. It also yields a yellow dye. The later in the season the plant is collected, the darker the dye will be.
This plant also contains a good deal of tannin and may be useful in dressing leather.
Agrimony is a nontoxic astringent that is especially safe for children. It is commonly used as a digestive tonic that relieves diarrhea and colicky pains. A tonic infusion, a 1-2 teaspoons per teacup, three times a day (or make it by the jugful, adjusting measurements accordingly, and store it in the fridge to drink cold), can be used as a diuretic and for urinary and kidney infections, for jaundice and general liver ailments . Agrimony is also a popular “spring tonic”.
The same infusion may also be used as a gargle for throat irritation, especially useful for singers.
Taken internally agrimony will aggravate constipation, particularly take in addition to psyllium powders such as Metamucil or along with prunes or prune juice.
Agrimony makes a lovely fragrant tea good hot or iced. Steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves and flowers in one cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Add honey to taste.
Contains vitamins B3, K, iron, and niacin