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It is known by many other names, and in Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale it is known as meadwort and was one of the ingredients in a drink called “save”. It was also known as bridewort, because it was strewn in churches for festivals and weddings, and often made into bridal garlands. In Europe, it took its name “queen of the meadow” for the way it can dominate a low-lying, damp meadow. In the 16th century, when it was customary to strew floors with rushes and herbs (both to give warmth underfoot and to overcome smells and infections), it was a favorite of Elizabeth I of England. She desired it above all other herbs in her chambers.


This beautiful plant flowers in wet meadows and ditches and has two distinct aromas. The flowers have a sweet heady smell and the crushed foliage a sharper scent. It was used to sweeten mead (its original name was medesweet). It was also used to ease pain, calm fevers and mask unpleasant smells in Tudor times. The sap contains similar chemicals to an ingredient in asprin. It normally flowers June to August producing many white flowers with numerous stamens. This plant was found flowering in a roadside ditch in mid October 2005 near Stagsden Bedfordshire.