Meadow Plants: Hidden Beneficial Wildflowers and their Medicinal Applications
by Jovita Turan, June 7, 2020
A meadow is an open habitat (could be a field) that is vegetated by grass, herbs, and other non-woody plants. Meadows are ‘semi-natural grasslands‘, which means that they are mostly composed of native species, with limited human intervention.
At the moment, wildflower meadows are commonly used as an alternative to borders and lawns, and there are many known reasons and benefits of having them in your gardens. First of all, wildflower meadows provide a rich and essential food source for pollinators such as honey bees, bumblebees, butterflies, beetles, moths, wasps, and hover flies. Meadows provide high biodiversity and the view that is changing constantly through the seasons. They provide opportunities to differentiate your smaller or urban garden plots, it is time-saving, low maintenance, quick and low-cost solution for today‘s men.
Additionally to before listed environmental benefits of wildflower meadows, another reason why people should consider this natural treasure and the main topic of this article is the meadow plants itself. Further on, you will learn a few most commonly used wildflowers to attract pollinators, which accumulate several active ingredients that for centuries has been used as a medicine to treat diseases and disorders of human health.
Achillea millefolium L.
Yarrow or Common yarrow – a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Asteraceae family contains essential oil, sesquiterpenes as well as phenolic compounds: flavonoids and phenolic acids.
A. millefolium is used for wounds, digestive problems, respiratory infections, and skin conditions. The plant is being used for liver disease and as a mild sedative.
Agrimonia eupatoria L.
Common agrimony, Church steeples or Sticklewort - a perennial herb belonging to the Rosaceae family contains tannins, saponins, coumarins, polysaccharides, volatile compounds, organic acids, vitamin C, amino acids, flavonoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, silica.
A. eupatoria is used to increase the secretion of the digestive glands, as appetizing, choleretic and hemostatic, astringent, anti-diuretic, anti-inflammatory agent. Also, it is used for gallstone disease, liver disease, inflammation of the oral mucosa.
Anthyllis vulneraria L.
Kidney vetch, Common kidneyvetch or Woundwort – a perennial belonging to the Fabaceae family is a medicinal plant native to Europe. The plant contains two main compound groups: flavonoids and saponins, that can be isolated from flowers and leaves, as well as anthocyanins, carotenoids, phenolic acids, tannins.
In folk medicine, A. vulneraria has been used to treat inflammation, disturbance of metabolism and acne, as well as wound healing.
Centaurea cyanus L.
Cornflower or Bachelor's button – an annual flowering weed belongs to the Asteraceae family. The plant‘s petals contain hydroxycinnamic acids, flavonoids, coumarins, and polysaccharides.
In traditional European medicine, the aqueous extract of C. cyanus flowers is used to treat ocular, nerve, dermatological, and gastric diseases, as well as a diuretic, stimulant, and tonic.
Centaurea scabiosa L.
Greater knapweed – a perennial herb belonging to the Asteraceae family. Aerial parts of the plant contain flavonoids and their glycosides, glucuronic acid, and polyacetylenes. Four lignans were reported from the seeds of greater knapweed.
In traditional medicine C. scabiosa has been used to treat wounds, bruises, and sores, it was mixed with pepper to treat loss of appetite. In Italy, greater knapweed has been used to treat coughs and as an ophthalmic drug. Moreover, it has been used as a tonic, diuretic, diaphoretic, and vulnerary, as well as in the treatment of cancer.
Digitalis purpurea L.
Foxglove or Common foxglove - a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial belonging to the Plantaginaceae family. From about thirty known organic compounds in the plant, only 4–6 are medicinally active: digoxin, digitoxigenin, digoxigenin, and saponins.
D. purpurea derivatives are used to treat heart failure, arrhythmia, neurological diseases and also being tried as antitumor.
Echium vulgare L.
Viper’s bugloss or Blueweed – a biennial or monocarpic perennial plant that belongs to the Boraginaceae family. E. vulgare is reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, flavonoids, phenol carboxylic acids, sterones, and naphthoquinones. Moreover, the plant’s seed oil carries a valuable fatty acid profile.
Viper’s bugloss is recommended by herbalists for a wide range of medical applications, including treatment of colds, coughs, fevers, headache, water retention, kidney stones, inflammation, pain, etc. In folk medicine, E. vulgare has been used to treat fissures on hands and wounds. However, the production of viper’s bugloss has not been industrialized yet.
Geranium pratense L.
Meadow cranesbill or Meadow geranium – a herbaceous perennial belonging to the Geraniaceae family. The plant contains hydrolyzable and condensed tannins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids.
In folk medicine, areal parts, rhizomes, and roots of the plant have been used to treat periodontal diseases and stomatitis in a form of powder, by infusion or decoction. The roots of G. pratense are applied as a poultice to bruises, used to treat cough and gastric disorders.
Lythrum salicaria L.
Purple loosestrife, Spiked loosestrife or Purple lythrum – a herbaceous perennial belonging to the family Lythraceae. The plant accumulates several bioactive compounds including flavonoids, tannins, phenolics, phthalates, sterols, terpenes as well as vescalagin, oleanolic acid, and ursolic acid.
Traditionally plant is used against diarrhea, chronic intestinal catarrh, hemorrhoid, and eczema in the form of a decoction or a fluid extract and to treat varicose veins, bleeding of the gums, hemorrhoid and eczema, externally.
Origanum majorana L.
Marjoram, Sweet marjoram or Knotted marjoram – a perennial herb or undershrub belongs to the Lamiaceae family. The main compounds of marjoram herb are up to 3% volatile oil, flavonoid glycosides, tannins, steroids (e.g., â-sitosterol), and triterpenoids (oleanolic acid and ursolic acid).
A. majorana is pungent, bitter, hot, stomachic, anthelmintic, alexipharmic, useful in diseases of the heart and blood, fevers, leucoderma, and inflammation. An infusion of the plant is used as a stimulant, sudorific, emmenagogue, and galactagogue and also useful in asthma, hysteria, and paralysis.
Salvia verbenaca L.
Wild clary or Wild sage – a perennial plant from the Lamiaceae family mainly produces terpenes, phenolics, and their derivatives.
S. verbenaca is used as a bactericide against respiratory diseases, as eyedrops and in healing wounds and ulcers.
Trifolium pratense L.
Red clover – a short-lived biennial plant belonging to the Fabaceae family accumulates high concentrations of isoflavonoid and other phenolic compounds such as phenolic acids, clovamides, and saponins. The plant contains natural antioxidants as well.
In traditional medicine, T. pratense has been used to treat whooping cough, asthma, eczema, and eye diseases.
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