Herb: Gravel Root

Latin name: Eupatorium purpureum

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Gravel Root:

Gravel root was used by the native N. American Indians as a diaphoretic to induce perspiration and break a fever. The plant was quickly adopted by the white settlers and still finds a use in modern herbalism. The whole plant, but especially the root, is astringent, diuretic, nervine and tonic. It works particularly on the genito-urinary system and the uterus. Especially valuable as a diuretic and stimulant, as well as an astringent tonic, a tea made from the roots and leaves has been used to eliminate stones from the urinary tract, to treat urinary incontinence in children, cystitis, urethritis, impotence etc. It is also said to be helpful in treating rheumatism and gout by increasing the removal of waste from the kidneys. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested in the summer before the buds open and are dried for later use. The roots are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Swampy and rich low ground and in woods, especially on calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Gravel Root:

The roots have been burnt and their ashes used as salt to flavour foods.

Other uses of the herb:

The stems have been used as straws. The fruits yield a pink or red textile dye.

Propagation of Gravel Root:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Swampy and rich low ground and in woods, especially on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Eupatorium purpureum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.