Herb: Masterwort


Latin name: Peucedanum ostruthium


Synonyms: Imperatoria ostruthium


Family: Umbelliferae



Medicinal use of Masterwort:

Masterwort is little used in modern herbalism, but it may well be a herb that bears further investigation. It was held in high regard in the Middle Ages where it was especially valued for its ability to resolve all flatulence in the body and stimulate the flow of urine and menstruation. It was also used in treating rheumatic conditions, shortness of breath, kidney and bladder stones, water retention and wounds. The root is antispasmodic, aromatic, bitter, strongly carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant and stomachic. It is of use in the treatment of asthma, dyspepsia and menstrual complaints, an infusion helps to relieve migraine. The root is gathered in the spring or autumn and dried for later use. An essential oil from the plant has a euphoric and odontalgic effect. Used externally, it relieves skin irritation. When used externally, the plant or the extracted essential oil can cause an allergic reaction to sunlight. A homeopathic remedy is made from the roots. No details of its applications are given.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
120 cm
(4 feet)

Flovering:
June to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Woodland, damp fields, river banks and mountain meadows.

Edible parts of Masterwort:

Leaves - cooked. Used as a potherb or as a flavouring. The aromatic roots can be used as a flavouring. They are said to taste hotter than pepper. A particularly popular drink is made from the fermented roots.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of Masterwort:

Woodland, damp fields, river banks and mountain meadows.

Known hazards of Peucedanum ostruthium:

Skin contact with the sap of this plant is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. It is also said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.