Herb: Marsh Andromeda


Latin name: Andromeda polifolia


Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)



Medicinal use of Marsh Andromeda:

The plant is used as a respiratory aid in the treatment of catarrh.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
May to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Bogs, rarely on wet heaths, at altitudes up to 500 metres. Rare and decreasing in the south of Britain.

Edible parts of Marsh Andromeda:

The tender leaves and shoot-tips are boiled as an aromatic tea. A delicious drink. Some caution is advised since boiling the plant or infusing it in hot water is said to release a toxic chemical. It is safer to soak the leaves in a jar of water in direct sunlight to make "sun tea".

Other uses of the herb:

Tannin is obtained from the leaves and twigs.

Propagation of Marsh Andromeda:

Seed - sow February/March in an acid compost in the greenhouse. Surface sow or only just cover the seed and place in a lightly shaded position. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 2 months at 12C. Prick out the young seedlings into individual pots as soon as possible, they are prone to damp-off and so should be kept well ventilated. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out in early summer once they are 15cm or more tall. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 7cm with a heel, July/August in a frame in a shady position. Takes 15 months. Layering in August in a semi-shady position. Takes 18 months. Division in early spring. The plants should be "dropped" beforehand. This entails digging up the plant 6 to 12 months earlier and replanting it somewhat more deeply. The buried branches will then root and form new plants when divided.

Cultivation of the herb:

Bogs, rarely on wet heaths, at altitudes up to 500 metres. Rare and decreasing in the south of Britain.

Known hazards of Andromeda polifolia:

A toxin, called 'andromedotoxin' can be released from the plant if it is infused in boiling water. See notes below regarding use of the plant for tea.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.