Alchemilla vulgaris. Lion’s Foot. Bear’s Foot. Nine Hooks.
Family: Rosacae. Dicotelydon (eudicot). Perennial. Native to UK (Northern Europe and Greenland), common all over the UK.
Low to the ground with large lower leaves that spill outwards on long single stalks. The green leaves are soft and downy, hirsuite, tooth-edged, scalloped and ‘corrugated’ outwards from the stalk like circular cloaks (hence the common name – it is said to resemble the cloak of the Virgin Mary.)
In summer, taller stalks with clusters of tiny yellow-green flowers with no true petals, and smaller leaves that hug the stalks.
The genus name ‘Alchemilla’ refers to ‘alchemy’, and it was believed that the morning dew that forms on the leaves were an ingredient in making gold. It was also thought that these drops could cure eye problems. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that women could maintain eternal youth if they drank the dew – which must be collected naked.
Uses in medicine
Alchemilla vulgaris is widely considered a ‘women’s herb’ and it is commonly used to treat heavy, painful, too-frequent or irregular periods.
It is high in tannin and is a good astringent, helping to ‘dry up’ excess moisture, and was traditionally used as a wound herb – applied as a poultice to speed up the healing of wounds and cooling and drying out of ulcers. It may also be used as a mouthwash or gargle for sore throats or laryngitis.
Parts used: Dried leaves and flowers (occasionally root).
- Emmenagogue: stimulates healthy menstrual flow.
- Astringent: tones and tightens tissue, which in this case can be helpful for irregular or heavy menstruation.
- Vulnerary: Encourages internal healing.
- Diuretic: benefits the urinary system by increasing urine flow.
Anatomy in more detail
1. What type of leaves does your chosen plant have?
Petiolate (with stalks), hirsuite (hairy), toothed, individual.
2. How do the leaves grow/appear on the stem?
The leaves grow from the end of individual stems. The stalk meets the leaf from the underside, where the leaf fans outwards like a wrap-around skirt from a central point.
3. Do you have a photograph or drawing of your chosen plant? If not take, draw or find one to add to your monograph.
4. How would you describe and number the sepals and the petals of your chosen plant?
These greenish-yellow flowers do not have petals. There is a four-lobed epicalyx holding four sepals, with four/five stamens rising from the centre.
5. What fruit/seed does your chosen plant produce?
Lady’s Mantle produces lots of seeds, and spreads easily.
Method of preparation:
1b) Taste (actual)
2) Where (in your body) is it going?
3) How is it getting there?
4) What is it doing?
5) What kind of person would this plant be?
6) Who might benefit from taking this plant?
Space for drawing/notes.
Websites: The Naturapathic Herbalist,