Almost but not quite

One of the wild flowers that grows round here is Geum rivale or water avens.  Although I do love most flowers, I’m particularly fond of the appearance of this one.  It is quite subtle in colour and has a shy drooping flower habit. There is quite a large amount of it on the river bank and up in the gully.

water avens flowers
Water avens flowers on river bank

I think this herb may be confused sometimes with Geum urbanum; herb bennet or wood avens which has a clove scented root, is used as a pot herb and remedy against snake bites.  However Geum rivale also has many herbal uses.  The mention that the roots can make a chocolate substitute inspired me to give it a go.

WATER AVENS ROOTS
Water avens roots

I dug up a bit of plant from near the river – it was almost fully died back, but I am pretty sure of my identification from the fragment of growing point left.  I cut off the roots and replanted the crown to regrow.  The creeping rootstock is about a quarter inch thick and could be cleaned off reasonably easily in fresh water, although a bit brittle.  I could detect no particular scent of cloves, some sites say that it develops more in the dried root, but I wonder if this is one of the aspects of Geum urbanum that gets confused.  I cut the fresh cleaned root into tiny pieces and boiled it in a little water for about ten minutes.

water avens infusion
Water avens infusion

The water turned a dark reddish brown colour.  Taking a little taste of it revealed that it was incredibly bitter.  However adding warm milk and a little sugar resulted in a drink that was palatable.  If you had hot chocolate described to you but you had never tasted it, then this would satisfy.  In the words of the late great Douglas Adams it was ‘almost, but not quite, entirely unlike‘ chocolate.

 

14 thoughts on “Almost but not quite

    1. They look like snake’s head fritillary – very beautiful. And if they have a chocolate-like flavour, even better. Maybe another wildflower I could encourage in my garden, though I’ve not noticed any round here.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I love finding this beautiful plant on our walks in the Peak and Lake Districts. I have never found it here in East Anglia though it is to be found here and there, apparently. I think we are too dry and the soil is probably not to its liking.

    Liked by 1 person

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