I came across both of these plants this afternoon in the shade of cottonwood trees lining a riparian meadow a little ways outside the city. For both, the chief use is to dry and make tea.
Avens, Geum macrophyllum, is in the rose family. It has a fuzzy stem and five yellow petals which barely touch.
All parts of the plant are edible, technically, with the above-ground portions (leaves, flowers) most commonly infused in a tea and the root boiled and reportedly used as a substitute for clove seasoning at some point in European history. (The one I dug up didn’t smell particularly similar like cloves to my nose, that said, but there are some 50 different kinds of Geum and maybe the lore was referring to a different species). The tea can be useful as an astringent, for example to treat diarrhea; the leaves have a history of being made into a paste with water and applied to cure boils — so I’m using it on a blemish and hoping it works similarly. It reportedly has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also reportedly good for warding off evil spirits.
Ground Ivy, Glecoma hederacea, a.k.a. Gil-Over-The-Ground, a.k.a. Creeping Charlie, is a strongly aromatic herb in the mint family with a unique bitter-mint flavor. It is technically edible but in practice has leaves that are a little too pungent to eat much of raw. And like Avens, it is also an astringent. Specifically it’s been indicated as a cough medicine.
Ground Ivy has square stems and bright blue-purple flowers. Historically, it was a primary ingredient in brewing beer, and its name “Gil” may come from the French “guille,” which means to ferment, according to Stephen Buhner.
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