Herb: Gayfeather


Latin name: Liatris spicata


Family: Compositae



Medicinal use of Gayfeather:

The leaves and root are anodyne, antibacterial, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. The plant is said to be extremely efficacious when used as a local application in the treatment of sore throats and gonorrhoea. It is also used in treating kidney diseases. The leaves are harvested in the summer, the roots in the autumn. Both can be used fresh or dried.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
60 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
September

Habitat of the herb:

Meadows, borders of marshes, savannahs, damp slopes etc. Poor dry ridges.

Other uses of Gayfeather:

The aromatic leaves and roots are added to pot-pourri. The leaves and the roots are added to various insect-repellent herbal mixtures.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in autumn in a greenhouse. Sow stored seed as soon as possible in the year in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first year. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in spring. 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. Basal cuttings taken in spring as growth commences. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of Gayfeather:

Meadows, borders of marshes, savannahs, damp slopes etc. Poor dry ridges.

Known hazards of Liatris spicata:

Although we have no records of toxicity for this plant, one record says that the leaves contain coumarins. These have an anti-clotting effect on the blood and can prevent natural clotting of the blood when there is a cut.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.