Agrimonia procera

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Common Agrimony

Agrimonia eupatoria

  • Name also: Church Steeples, Churchsteeples, Cockleburr, Sticklewort, Stickwort
  • Family: Rose Family – ­Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rhizomatous.
  • Height: 30–100 cm (12–40 in.). Stem long and short-haired, grooveless.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), yellow, approx. 10 mm (0.4 in.) broad; petals 5, usually round-tipped, 4–5 mm (0.16–0.2 in.) long. Calyx 5-lobed. Stamens 10–12. Gynoecium separate, pistils 2. Inflorescence a long spike, flowers fragrant.
  • Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate on stem, stalked, stipulate. Stem leaves smaller than rosette leaves, on upper part of stem leaves shorter than internodes. Blade pinnate, 3–6-paired, with terminal leaflet. Leaflets elliptic–lanceolate, large-toothed, underside densely haired, with glandular hairs (sparsely), greyish. Between leaflets small leaflets intermixed with large ones. Crushed leaves weakly fragrant.
  • Fruit: With hooked hairs, clearly grooved lengthwise, 7–10 mm (0.28–0.4 in.) long pome. Lowest hooked hairs aligned towards crown.
  • Habitat: Dryish meadows, coppices, forest margins, pastures, meadows, banks. Calciphile.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Common agrimony is a south-western species in Finland and is most common in its native habitat in juniper meadows, shore-side hedgerows and hazel groves on rocky slopes in the Åland Islands and the south-western archipelago. Fragmented stands on southern shores in Satakunta, south Häme and south Savo could be legacies from when it was cultivated as a medicinal plant.

Common agrimony’s specific epithet (second part of scientific name) comes from the eastern part of Asia Minor where Mithridates Eupator was the king of Pontos on the shores of the Black Sea over two thousand years ago. According to legend he was the first to notice the healing power of the plant. In Finland the plant was dedicated to the Virgin Mary on account of its beneficial properties, or perhaps because of some long-forgotten pagan ritual. The Finnish name for the genus is probably based on the belief that the plants had the power to arrest bleeding – a tincture has been used on dressings to treat wounds and prevent infection setting in. As a medicinal plant it has been used as a digestive aid and to address liver and bile duct troubles. It is still used as an ingredient in certain tea combinations.

Apart from common agrimony, fragrant agrimony (A. procera) also grows in south-west Finland, mainly on the Åland Islands. Hairy agrimony (A. pilosa), a rare and protected relative, also grows in a compact area on the border of the provinces of Häme and Central Finland. This plant thrived with traditional agriculture, but as grazing land and meadows become overgrown it is under threat, as are other agrimony species. Fully grown agrimony plants are able to withstand some competition from other large herbs, but in dense vegetation the seeds do not germinate or the shoots die young. Agrimony species can be differentiated from each other according to e.g. the length of the grooves on their fruits. Common agrimony’s grooves are ¾ of the length of the fruit, fragrant agrimony’s are about ½, and on hairy agrimony they run the whole length of the fruit.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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