Bennet Herb (avens)

This, the Herba Benedicta, or Blessed Herb, or Avens (Geum

Urbanum) is a very common plant of the Rose tribe, in our

woods, hedges, and shady places. It has an erect hairy stem, red at

the base, with terminal bright yellow drooping flowers. The

ordinary name Avens--or Avance, Anancia, Enancia--signifies an

antidote, because it was formerly thought to ward off the Devil,

and evil spirits, and venomous beasts. Where the
oot is in a house

Satan can do nothing, and flies from it: therefore (says Ortus

Sanitatis) it is blessed before all other herbs; and if a man carries

the root about him no venomous beast can harm him. The herb

is sometimes called Way Bennet, and Wild Rye. Its graceful

trefoiled loaf, and the fine golden petals of its flowers,

symbolising the five wounds of Christ, were sculptured by the

monks of the thirteenth century on their Church architecture. The

botanical title of this [48] plant, Geum, is got from Geuo, to

yield an agreeable fragrance, in allusion to the roots. Hence also

has been derived another appellation of the Avens--Radix

Caryophyllata, or clove root, because when freshly dug out of

the ground the roots smell like cloves. They yield tannin freely,

with mucilage, resin, and muriate of lime, together with a heavy

volatile oil. The roots are astringent and antiseptic, having been

given in infusion for ague, and as an excellent cordial sudorific in

chills, or for fresh catarrh. To make this a pint of boiling water

should be poured on half an ounce of the dried root, or rather more

of the fresh root, sliced. Half a wineglassful will be the dose, or

ten grains of the powdered root. An extract is further made. When

the petals of the flower fall off, a small round prickly ball is to be