Geum, Herb Bennet, Wood Avens FR: Benolte
GER: Geum, Nelkenwurz, Sumpfnelke
IT: Cariofillata or Ambretta
BOT: Geum urbanum
ILL: Plate 5, No. 3
The avens, native to Europe, is commonly found wild in woods and shady damp hedgerows in Britain and is also found in Asia. It does not grow wild in North America. The flower has five yellow petals appearing from above as if separated by the green sepals. The plant grows to about twelve inches high. The roots have a sweet smell of cloves and, according to old herbals, were used to flavour ale and prevent it souring, which suggests the presence of bacteriostatic substances that inhibit the multiplication of bacteria without killing them completely. Cloves produce the same reaction.
Avens was considered essential in Tudor kitchen gardens and may be found mentioned in old recipes. The young leaves can be used in salads.