Herb: Seven Barks

Latin name: Hydrangea arborescens

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Medicinal use of Seven Barks:

Seven barks was used by the North American Indians as a remedy for kidney and bladder stones and is still used for these purposes in modern herbalism. It is considered to both encourage the expulsion of stones and to help dissolve those that remain. The roots are anthelmintic, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of kidney stones, mucous irritations of the bladder, cystitis, nephritis, enlarged prostate and bronchial afflictions. Excessive doses can cause dizziness and bronchial congestion. The fresh roots are very succulent and can be easily cut, when dry they become very tough and resistant. They are harvested in the autumn and it is best to cut them into short sections before drying them. The scraped bark is used as a poultice on wounds, burns, sore muscles, sprains etc. The bark is chewed in the treatment of stomach and heart ailments. The leaves are cathartic, diuretic, sialagogue and tonic.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Rich woods, banks of streams and calcareous rocky slopes.

Edible parts of Seven Barks:

The peeled branches and twigs have been used to make a tea. The new growth of young twigs has been peeled, boiled thoroughly then fried and eaten.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - surface sow in a greenhouse in spring. Cover the pot with paper until the seed germinates. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8cm long, July/August in a frame. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring. Thick growths make the best cuttings, but these should be placed in individual pots. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood in late autumn in a frame. Mound layering in spring. Takes 12 months. Division of suckers in late winter. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. Leaf-bud cuttings of the current seasons growth in a frame.

Cultivation of Seven Barks:

Rich woods, banks of streams and calcareous rocky slopes.

Known hazards of Hydrangea arborescens:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.