Herb: Water Betony

Latin name: Scrophularia umbrosa

Synonyms: Scrophularia alata, Scrophularia aquatica, Scrophularia neesii

Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)

Medicinal use of Water Betony:

The leaves are detergent and vulnerary. They are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be used fresh or dried for later use. The plant has a good reputation as a wound herb, either applied externally as a poultice or taken as a decoction. Water betony is said to have similar medicinal properties to the knotted figwort, S. nodosa. These properties are as follows:- Knotted figwort is a plant that supports detoxification of the body and it may be used as a treatment for various kinds of skin disorders. The whole plant is alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, mildly purgative and stimulant. It is harvested as the plant comes into flower in the summer and can be dried for later use. A decoction is applied externally to sprains, swellings, burns, inflammations etc, and is said to be useful in treating chronic skin diseases, scrofulous sores and gangrene. The leaves can also be applied fresh or be made into an ointment. Internally, the plant is used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases (such as eczema, psoriasis and pruritis), mastitis, swollen lymph nodes and poor circulation. It should not be prescribed for patients with heart conditions. The root is anthelmintic.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Damp shady ground, usually near water. An occasional garden weed.

Edible parts of Water Betony:

Root - cooked. There must be some doubts about the edibility of this root.

Propagation of the herb:

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. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in the autumn or the spring. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Cultivation of Water Betony:

Damp shady ground, usually near water. An occasional garden weed.

Known hazards of Scrophularia umbrosa:

The plant is probably poisonous to cows.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.