National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future



Filipendula ulmaria (Flore Pleno), family Roseaceae
June to September

Native to Britain, meadowsweet can also be found throughout Europe and parts of Asia. When processed and mixed with a mordant such as bog iron, urine or alum, the roots of the plant provide a range of different coloured dyes including yellow, black and red. These were traditionally used to dye wool for the manufacture of tweed and tartan.

The Gaelic name of the plant, lus Chuchulain, reflects its legendary use to treat the great champion warrior Cuchulainn's uncontrollable temper in a meadowsweet bath. In many parts of the Highlands it was used medicinally to treat fever and the scent of the blossom was said to cure headaches. The scent mostly arises from methylsalicilate, a precursor to aspirin.

The flowers were once used to flavour mead; an alcoholic drink made from honey and may even have been used in Bronze Age brewing.

Meadowsweet. Image credit: chrsjc, Flickr. CC license