Herb: Water Avens

Latin name: Geum rivale

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Water Avens:

The root is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stomachic, styptic and tonic. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea (and is suitable for children to use), intestinal and stomach complaints, liver disorders etc, it is also applied externally as a wash to various skin afflictions - it is said to remove spots, freckles and eruptions from the face. This plant has similar properties but is less active than the related G. urbanum and so is seldom used medicinally. The root is best harvested in the spring, since at this time it is most fragrant. Much of the fragrance can be lost on drying, so the root should be dried with great care then stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container, being sliced and powdered only when required for use. The root is rich in tannin and is a powerful astringent.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Damp places, such as moist ditches and streamsides, most frequently in the shade.

Edible parts of Water Avens:

The dried or fresh root can be boiled in water to make a delicious chocolate-like drink. It can also be used as a seasoning. It is best harvested in the spring or autumn but can be used all year round. Fragrant, it was once used to flavour ales.

Other uses of the herb:

The dried root repels moths. Plants are suitable for ground cover when spaced about 30cm apart each way. The cultivar "Leonard's Variety" is the best for this purpose.

Propagation of Water Avens:

Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer" Division in spring or autumn. This should be done every 3 - 4 years in order to maintain the vigour of the plant. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp places, such as moist ditches and streamsides, most frequently in the shade.

Known hazards of Geum rivale:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.