The yellow-green lady’s mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora) is a well-known plant in natural medicine, which has been playing a major role since the Middle Ages. As a medicinal plant it is used especially for women’s complaints and minor diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In the wild, the herb can be found in wet meadows and along streams. A nice feature is the dew drops that can be observed on the surface of the lady’s coat leaves.
Profile of Lady’s mantle:
Scientific name: Alchemilla xanthochlora
Plant family: rosaceae. rose family
Other names: featherfew, parsley-piert, nine hooks, lion’s foot, bear’s foot, stellaria, leontopodium, dewcup, yarrow, field hop, common lady’s mantle
Sowing time / Planting time: October – January
Flowering period: May – August
Harvest time: April – August
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: moist and nutrient-rich soils
Use as a medicinal herb: gastrointestinal complaints, menstrual disorders, blood purification, wound healing, aphthae
Use as aromatic herb: wild herbs salads, wild herb soups
Plant characteristics and classification of Lady’s mantle
Origin and distribution
The lady’s mantle is originally from Eastern Europe and Asia. Today, the plant is wild in many countries of Western Europe, including France, Great Britain, Greece and Germany. Some species are native to the Americas and Africa.
In nature, it is often found on wet meadows or on a slope, with both sunny and partially shaded locations are tolerated. In recent years, it is also grown more often as an ornamental plant in public places or in flower beds.
Plant order of the lady’s mantle
The lady’s mantle belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae) and is directly related to other herbs such as meadowsweet, agrimony or hawthorn. Plant systematists have divided the genus of the lady’s mantle (Alchemilla) into seven general sections. In addition, there are 13 sections to describe only the European clans. Since the individual lady’s mantle species are sometimes very differently structured, this division of plant systematics had to be made. The plant belongs to the section Alchemilla.
In addition to the yellow-green lady’s mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora), the following species are of importance in Central Europe:
- garden lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
- common lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
- Alpine Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla alpestris)
Features of the Lady’s mantle
The lady’s mantle is a perennial herbaceous plant. It reaches stature heights between 40 and 50 cm (15 and 20 inches). The plant forms a creeping, woody and quite dark, partly black rhizome.
A special feature are the small, crystal-clear drops that are transpired from the leaves. These drops are referred to as guttation-drops, which, incidentally, also derives the name Alchemilla. The scientists in the Middle Ages were amazed by the natural distillate and therefore called the lady’s mantle as an alchemist’s herb.
Another special feature are its round, partly kidney-shaped and lobed leaves. The leaves are slightly hairy on the underside and usually between 5 and 15 cm (2 to 6 inches) wide. The leaves are attached to the also slightly hairy stems, which usually have a flat inner surface. The stem is usually light green in color, rather rotund and growing upright.
The flowers are yellowish green and arranged in quite dense inflorescences. The individual inflorescences again contain several loose flower panicle. The individual flowers are only a few millimeters wide and rarely hairy. The heyday is expected between May and August.
From September, the fruit ripeness is expected. There, the flowers form small, inconspicuous nut fruits. Each individual fruit has a small calyx with pappus, which mainly serves the spread through animals passing by.
The lady’s mantle is due to its untypical leaf shape also a popular ornamental plant. In addition, the herb is also grown as a medicinal plant in gardens. The cultivation of lady’s mantle is relatively easy if simple basics are kept.
The herb needs sunny to half-shady locations and rather humid and nutrient-rich soils. The soil should also be permeable. For very loamy soils it is recommended to loosen it with some quartz sand or lava granules.
When sowing lady’s mantle care must be taken to ensure that the seeds are frost germinators and accordingly require cold for germination. In the field, sowing can be started between October and January. It is recommended to work the seeds in a planter in a sheltered place. The shell must not dry out. Regular moisture must be strictly observed when growing. In spring, the small plantlets can then be pricked out to the desired location. No more than five plants per meter (3 feet) should be planted.
The lady’s mantle can be both well put on by seed, as well as multiply by division. If you have wild lady’s mantle in your environment, you can also remove a few plants directly and plant them in the garden. The plants sow themselves quite quickly and even tend to overgrow with inappropriate care. The plants can also be propagated by division. However, the division should preferably be made in the months of December and January. The summer months should be avoided as otherwise the plant may grow uncontrolledly, as long as the plant carries seeds or is not properly disposed of.
When transplanting the small herbs, an already slightly pre-fertilized location should be chosen. Compost or pelleted cattle manure is ideal for providing optimal nutrients. After the harvest season and in late autumn, the soil should also be fertilized again, as it belongs to the more nutrient-consuming herbs.
For home use both the leaves and flowers can be harvested at flowering time. As for winter supply the leaves can be dried.
Lady’s mantle is usually easy to care for. However, the plant should be vigorously cut back after flowering, usually around August.
Pests and diseases
Lady’s mantle is considered a very resistant plant that is rarely affected by pests. In case of excessive water supply, which tends to waterlogging, root rot can occur. Too abundant watering as well as too small planting distances may under certain circumstances favor downy and powdery mildew.
Lady’s mantle and its use
Usually lady’s mantle is used as a medicinal herb and is rarely used in the kitchen as herbs.
Lady’s mantle as a kitchen herb
Lady’s mantle has a slightly bitter, but still pleasant taste. In the kitchen, the herb is still used very rarely. Now and then lady’s mantle leaves are used in wild herb salads or wild herb soups. For the soups and salads, only the fresh leaves should be used. Dry leaves have a very strong aroma and taste slightly different. Most suitable for the consumption of young leaves are the spring months.
The herb is also used for soft drinks. Fruits such as apples, pears or cherries can be mixed with cold lady’s mantle water. Here, it is first cooked and then cooled.
Lady’s mantle as a medicinal herb
In today’s natural medicine, the herb is mainly used for stomach and intestinal complaints and for some women’s complaints. The plant parts used are limited to the herb and the flowers. The root, however, is no longer used today.
Already in the early Middle Ages, the lady’s mantle was one of the most valued medicinal plants. Then, the areas of application of the famous herb include gastrointestinal complaints, women’s complaints and external applications. Also the leaves of the plant were occasionally used for care and cosmetic applications. Here the herb is mostly used as a bath additive or occasionally as a cream.
The herb was also well-known to Hildegard von Bingen, who preferred to use it for typical gynecological problems. Paracelsus has used it for wound healing and against inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effect is also attributed to the high levels of tannins in the plant.
In many older herbal books of the late Middle Ages and early modern times, it is usually referred to as parsley-pier. Whether it is the today more commonly used lady’s mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora) or the common lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) can not be clearly explained.
In other herbal books the lady’s mantle was mainly used as a medicinal plant for wound healing. Also against epilepsy (falling sickness), the herb was apparently used. Therefore, both the leaves and the root of the herb were used, which were usually processed into ointments, patches or tinctures.
Healing effects andmedicinal use
The lady’s mantle has numerous healing interesting ingredients. The medicinal plant mainly produces tannins, flavonoids and bitter substances. These substances show above all the following healing effects:
- blood purifier
- aquarisch (water-drenching)
In today’s folk medicine and naturopathy the lady’s mantle is among others used for the following complaints and illnesses:
- cold symptoms or flu infections
- menstrual cramps
- slight gastrointestinal discomfort
- various mucosal inflammations (for example oral mucosa)
- outer wounds
- mild kidney problems
- rinsing the kidneys
- eye puffiness
Lady´s mantle is usually used as a tea to relieve discomfort, such as menstrual cramps and PMS. It can be used both the dried herb and a mix of other medicinal herbs. For mixing of own herbal teas, e.g. yarrow, lemon balm and amber are used in addition to lady’s mantle. For that reason, the herbs should be divided here in the ratio 2: 1: 1: 1. It is recommended to leave the herbal mixture for about 10 minutes and cover. More than two to three cups daily should not be drunk daily.
Further application finds the lady’s mantle herb in gargle solutions. The anti-inflammatory effect is said to be mild mouth disorders, e.g. make aphthae (canker sores) more compatible.
Side effects and note
Women who are in pregnancy should abstain from lady’s mantle herb altogether. Since the herb has an antispasmodic effect, it could lead to complications with the uterus (lady’s mantle stimulates the uterus!).
Purchase Lady’s mantle – What to pay attention to?
Lady’s mantle is usually available as a dried herb or as a ready to buy tea mixture. The prices are usually slightly higher than other herbs, since the plant is grown relatively less than other more popular medicinal herbs. The price for 1 Kilo (35 oz) up to 40 EUR/$ are not uncommon. When buying should be taken to ensure that the herbs are not too old and are packaged flavor sealed.
Plants are usually rare to buy. The lady’s mantle, which is also used for most therapeutic applications, is only occasionally found in some online retailers or very rarely in the specialized trade. With a bit of luck, the seeds of the species Alchemilla xanthochlora can be purchased.