Herb Bennet also goes by the name of Colewort, Wood Avens, Bennet's Root and Old man's whiskers. The name is a short form of Herba benedicta, or 'the Blessed Herb' because it was believed that it had the power to ward off evil spirits and venomous beasts. It is a perennial herb in the rose family used medicinally to treat diarrhea, stomach, liver and mouth complaints and as an alternative to quinine. The leaves can be cooked and eaten and the root is used as a spice in soups and also for flavouring ale and other drinks - it is said to add a clove flavor with a hint of cinnamon. (The botanical name, Geum, originated from the Greek geno, to yield an agreeable fragrance.) Culpepper says: 'It is governed by Jupiter and that gives hopes of a wholesome healthful herb. It is good for the diseases of the chest or breath, for pains and stitches in the sides, it dissolveth inward congealed blood occasioned by falls and bruises and the spitting of blood, if the roots either green or dried be boiled in wine and drunk. The root in the spring-time steeped in wine doth give it a delicate flavour and taste and being drunk fasting every morning comforteth the heart and is a good preservative against the plague or any other poison. It is very safe and is fit to be kept in every body's house.'
The root can also be dried and put in the linen cupboard to impart the scent and repel moths. Easy to grow and thrives in sun or part shade. Plants self-sow freely. Ht 30cm. 9cm pot.