- Name also: Wood Avens, Colewort, St. Benedict’s Herb
- Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock vertical, strong, clove-like fragrance.
- Height: 30–70 cm (12–28 in.). Stem soft-haired.
- Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), pale yellow, approx. 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in.) broad; petals 5, elliptic, 4–7 mm (0.16–0.28 in.) long. Calyx 5-lobed; with epicalyx. Stamens many. Gynoecium separate, pistils several. Inflorescence a sparse corymb, flowers erect.
- Leaves: In basal rosette and alternate on stem, stalked, stipulate. Rosette leaves’ blade pinnate, 1–4 pairs, with terminal leaflet. Terminal leaflet stalked, usually 3-lobed, leaflets with lobed or toothed margins, underside veins prominent, hairy, greyish. Stem leaves’ blade palmate, with 3 leaflets or 3-lobed. Stipules large, like leaflets, with toothed margins.
- Fruit: Achene with hooked hairs, several together. Infructescence spherical, erect.
- Habitat: Broad-leaved forests, parks, gardens, banks, wasteland, forest margins.
- Flowering time: June–August.
Herb Bennet grows mainly in the south of Finland: it is only common as far north as the Helsinki-Pori line, but there have been individual sightings in southern Ostrobothnia, central Finland and North Karelia. It usually grows wild in loamy broad-leaved forests and close to shore hedgerows, and sometimes on rocky slopes. Its Latin species name comes from urbanus, referring to the way that it tends to follow people. It can stand human activity well and actually makes use of many changes, such as the enrichment of the forest. An important reason for following people has been its way of spreading: its hooked and hairy achene attaches easily to animal fur and people’s clothes. The plant is thus noticeably abundant beside well-used paths and other pathways. Plants that grow close to habitation have been used in the old days: the root was used like quinine to treat colds and chills and it was also used in preserves and drinks to add a clove-like aroma.
The majority of herb Bennet grows on slightly drier soil than its relative water avens (G. rivale), and it begins to flower slightly later. Herb Bennet is mainly pollinated by flies and other small insects, but water avens is a favourite of bumblebees. Despite differences in habitat, flowering time and pollinators, the two species quite often cross-breed. The first generation’s nodding flowers are more reminiscent of water avens than herb Bennet.
Yellow Avens & Largeleaf Avens
Geum aleppicum & Geum macrophyllum
Apart from native species herb Bennet and water avens, two more Geum species, yellow avens and largeleaf avens can be found in Finland, as established aliens. Different hybrids are also cultivated in gardens as perennials.