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Water Avens

  • Geum rivale L.
  • Rose family

Common Names

herbsAvens root
herbsChocolate root
herbsCure all
herbsIndian chocolate
herbsPurple avens
herbsThroat root

Parts Usually Used

Root, dried

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Water avens is a hairy perennial plant; its woody rootstock produces a simple, erect stem from 1-3 feet high with small, sessile, simple or three-cleft leaves. From the rootstock also grow long-petioled, hairy, pinnate leaves with three large terminal, coarsely double-toothed leaflets and one or two pairs of small lower leaflets. At the top of the stem grow from 3-5 purplish flowers on short pedicels, blooming from May to July. Some varieties have purplish sepals but rose-colored to yellow petals. Blossoms are followed by hooked fruits.

Another variety: Rough avens (Geum virginianum) and G. japonicum, both used medicinally like water avens.

Where Found

Found mostly in moist and wet places from Colorado and New Mexico northeastward, and in Canada, Europe and Asia.

Medicinal Properties

Astringent, stomachic, tonic

Legends, Myths and Stories

The amateur giving this plant a cursory glance would not associate it with other plants in the rose family. The dull reddish, nodding flowers characterize the plant.

Water avens was once used as a cocoa substitute.


The rootstock makes a tasty and effective remedy for diarrhea and dysentery when taken with milk and sugar. It also acts to improve appetite and digestion, dyspepsia. An infusion made from the whole plant can be used to clear up respiratory congestion and to counteract nausea.

Powdered root was once used as astringent for hemorrhage, fevers, and leukorrhea.

Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. rootstock in 1 cup water for 30 minutes. Take 1/2 cup before going to bed, or a mouthful 3 times a day. Take no more than 2 cups in total consecutive doses.

Infusion: steep 1 or 2 tsp. fresh plant in 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day.

Tincture: a dose is from 10-20 drops.


Excessive amounts can produce unpleasant side effects.

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