Geum urbanum - L.
Common Name Wood Avens, Bennet's Root - Old man's whiskers, Herb bennet
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods, scrub, hedge banks, walls etc, usually on good damp soils[9, 13, 17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa, Siberia, Himalayas and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Geum urbanum Wood Avens, Bennet
Geum urbanum Wood Avens, Bennet
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Geum urbanum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Geum rivale subsp. urbanum Á. Löve & D. Löve

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedgerow; North Wall. In. East Wall. In. West Wall. In.
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Drink.

Young leaves - cooked. Root - cooked. Used as a spice in soups, stews etc, and also as a flavouring in ale[4, 5, 8, 13, 183]. It is a substitute for cloves with a hint of cinnamon in the flavour[12, 74, 183]. It is best used in spring[12]. The root is also boiled to make a beverage[161]. The root is up to 5cm long[4].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiinflammatory;  Antiseptic;  Aromatic;  Astringent;  Diaphoretic;  Febrifuge;  Skin;  
Stomachic;  Styptic;  Tonic.

Wood avens is an astringent herb, used principally to treat problems affecting the mouth, throat and gastro-intestinal tract. It tightens up soft gums, heals mouth ulcers, makes a good gargle for infections of the pharynx and larynx, and reduces irritation of the stomach and gut[254]. All parts of the plant, but especially the root, are anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stomachic, styptic and tonic[4, 9, 21, 165, 238]. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, intestinal disorders, stomach upsets, irritable bowel syndrome and liver disorders, it is also applied externally as a wash to haemorrhoids, vaginal discharges etc[238, 254] and to treat various skin afflictions - it is said to remove spots, freckles and eruptions from the face[4, 9]. The root is best harvested in the spring, since at this time it is most fragrant[4]. Much of the fragrance can be lost on drying, so the root should be dried with great care then stored in a cool dry place in an airtight container, being sliced and powdered only when required for use[4]. The powdered root had a great reputation as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of intermittent fevers [301].


Other Uses
Repellent;  Tannin.

The freshly dug root has a clove-like fragrance[4], when dried it is used in the linen cupboard to repel moths[4, 53]. The root contains about 9% tannin[4].
Cultivation details
Easily grown in any moderately good garden soil that is well-drained[1]. Prefers shade[12, 21] and a soil rich in organic matter[200]. This species was widely cultivated as a pot-herb in the 16th century[5]. The bruised or dried root is pleasantly aromatic with a clove-like fragrance[245]. Plants self-sow freely when well-sited[238]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200].
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer' Division in spring or autumn. This should be done every 3 - 4 years in order to maintain the vigour of the plant[200]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Geum aleppicumYellow Avens12
Geum canadenseWhite Avens, Texan avens20
Geum japonicum 12
Geum pentapetalumAleutian avens02
Geum rivaleWater Avens, Purple avens32
Geum triflorumPurple Avens, Old man's whiskers, Prairie Smoke22
Lygeum spartumAlbardine, Lygeum00
Prunus africanaPygeum05


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
cloe green   Thu May 25 2006
The boiled leaves have a thick, furry texture that takes some chewing, but make a perfect palate cooler as a side dish to curry.
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Geum urbanum  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.