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Wood Avens

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

Very common anywhere shady and we can’t think of any woods or hedgerows that don’t have some growing somewhere.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Wood Avens, Herb Bennet, Colewort, St Benedicts Herb
Scientific Name Geum urbanum
Season Start Jan
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


A little like strawberry leaves growing in a rosette. The leaf stalk has a downy three lobed terminal leaf and then smaller single opposite leaves lessening in size towards the stem base.


Five bright yellow petals flowering between May and August.


The seeds are in the form of a burr which you have probably found attached to your trousers, socks and dog after a woodland walk.


A tangle of sturdy and fine roots.


Most types of woodland, hedgerows and shady areas in fact almost anywhere.

Possible Confusion

A fairly distinctive plant, especially when flowering or in fruit.


The roots smell of cloves but the mud must be removed first as mud has a strong smell.


The leaves have a neutral taste but the roots taste of cloves.


Very Common.


The leaves when young can be added to salads or stews or deep fried where they puff up a bit like prawn crackers.

The root is best picked, washed and used fresh but can be dried to store for later use, it loses some of its intensity but is still strong enough for use.

Medicinal Uses

Herbalists used to use it to treat poison, dog bites and liver disease, herbalists now use it for the treatment of gout, diarrhoea, heart disease and ulcers.

Other Facts

Used to mask the smell of clothes when people didn’t bathe as much and for detering moths.


12 comments for Wood Avens

  1. Sarah says:

    Here the aphids love it much more than my beans and other crops so really helps the organic grower as a sacrificial plant

  2. Curtis says:

    This is an amazing plant species. It has everything going for it to propagate. Burrs, sticky pods, deep sturdy roots. Unfortunately, it is over-running my garden, choking out iris and other plants. It’s spread out into grassy areas. I don’t want to kill it off (unless I have to) but does anyone have suggestions on how to control the spread?

    1. Andy says:

      It will be Powdery Mildew, it won’t spread to other plants, although they may get it themselves.
      Whenever plants get it I just chop them down or pull them up, depending on the plant. With Wood Avens I pull them up as there are always lots of seeds already in the garden and I’m not keen on them anyway.

  3. George says:

    My Dad’s garden is absolute smothered in this but unfortunately it all appears to be covered in mould. Will all of it have to be removed? What’s it diseased with and will it damage other plants. All of it is diseased in the same way.

  4. Bernardo says:

    Are the seeds edible?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The seeds are edible but have a hooked barb on the end, I don’t recommend eating them.

  5. Tamara Hiney says:

    Good thorough info thank you.

  6. Mike Sterling says:

    I have a lot of this in my garden I will give to anyone who wants to dig it out!
    I’m in North Hertfordshire.

  7. Caroline R says:

    Quite easy to dig out if the soil is wet but if dry its really hard!

  8. Kathleen Bardsley says:

    Is it something that can be carried by the birds?, I have just discovered some in my back garden and I know that I never planted it.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It one of the most common plants in the UK and spreads easily. They produce ‘burs’ which stick to animals and clothes and I’m sure birds spread them as well.

  9. Pól says:

    The main reason I keep them at bay in my garden is that once a burr finds its way into the ear of your pet it’ll take a trip to the vet to get it out.

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