Latin name: Epigaea repens
Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)
Medicinal use of Mayflower:Mayflower is rarely used medicinally, even in folk medicine, though it is a strong urinary antiseptic and is one of the most effective remedies for cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, bladder stones and particularly acute catarrhal cystitis. The leaves are astringent, diuretic and tonic. An infusion is made from the dried leaves, or a tincture from the fresh leaves. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of kidney disorders, stomach aches, bladder disorders etc. It is of special value when the urine contains blood or pus. Use with caution, the plant contains arbutin and, although this is an effective urinary disinfectant, it hydrolyzes to hydroquinone which is toxic. The leaves can be used fresh or can be harvested in the summer and dried for later use.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Damp mossy banks in sandy and peaty woods and clearings, usually under pine trees.
Edible parts of Mayflower:Flowers - raw. Fragrant, with a spicy slightly acid flavour, they are eaten as a wayside nibble or are added to salads. Thirst quenching.
Other uses of the herb:Plants can be grown for ground cover, they should be spaced about 25cm apart each way and form a carpet of growth. This species is probably not very worthwhile for ground cover in Britain because of its difficulty to cultivate.
Propagation of Mayflower:Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Another report says that the seed requires no pre-treatment and can be sown in late winter in a cold frame. Surface sow and place the pot in light shade, do not allow it to dry out. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 5 weeks. As soon as they are large enough to handle, pot up the seedlings into individual pots. Be very careful since they strongly resent root disturbance. Grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse and plant them out in their permanent positions in the late spring of their second years growth. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame.Take the cutting with a part of the previous year's growth. (This report is unclear as to whether it means a heel of older wood or just a small section of older wood) Plants self-layer and can be divided in the spring but this must be done with great care since they deeply resent root disturbance.
Cultivation of the herb:Damp mossy banks in sandy and peaty woods and clearings, usually under pine trees.
Known hazards of Epigaea repens:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.