Herb: Alum Root

Latin name: Heuchera micrantha

Family: Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Medicinal use of Alum Root:

The root is antiphlogistic, antiseptic, astringent, febrifuge and ophthalmic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of liver complaints and sore throats. A small piece of the cleaned and peeled root has been chewed to treat sore mouths and gums. A poultice of the mashed root, combined with the pitch from Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) has been used to treat wounds. The poultice was covered with a cloth and, when it was taken off, all the poison was extracted from the open wound. The chewed leaves or roots have also been used on their own as a dressing on wounds.

Description of the plant:


70 cm
(2 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Moist banks of humus and rocks in woodland below 600 metres.

Edible parts of Alum Root:

Young leaves - raw or cooked. Not very palatable.

Other uses of the herb:

The root can be used as an alum substitute, this is a mordant used in fixing dyes. The root is rich in tannin, is this the active ingredient that acts as a mordant?. The plant can be crushed and then rubbed on the hair as a tonic to make it grow. A good ground cover plant for the woodland garden. Plants should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.

Propagation of Alum Root:

Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly rapid. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. The seed can also be sown in the middle of spring in an outdoor seedbed and planted out in early summer. Alternatively, you can sow the seed in an outdoor seedbed in the middle of summer for planting out in the following spring. Division in March or October. It is best to divide the plants in August or early September, making sure that the woody roots are planted quite deeply with only the crown of foliage above the ground.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist banks of humus and rocks in woodland below 600 metres.

Known hazards of Heuchera micrantha:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.