SEVERAL years ago I was taking a hike through the woods in southern Ohio and I came upon a little star-like white flower blooming in mid-summer. The little wild flower had dark green segregated leaves and was covered with the delicate five petaled flowers. I gathered up a few of the seeds and brought them home and tossed them along a pathway in my garden. I had forgotten about the flower until the next spring when the plant was sprouting up and down my pathway. Curious as to what the flower was I did some research and discovered there is a lot of history associated with this flower. It is in the Rose family and the most common name is Avens. The flowers resemble other plants in the Rose family such as strawberries and blackberries. There is a yellow flowering Avens often referred to as, Golden Star. Because it reseeds and spreads so rapidly the perennial plant is often considered a noxious weed.
In the Middle Ages it was called the ‘Blessed Herb’ or ‘Herb Bennet’ named after a Christian Saint Benedict who was given poisoned wine by a monk trying to kill him. When St. Benedict blessed the wine the evil within fled and the goblet burst apart and turned to dust. Early Christians wore Avens’s root as an amulet around their neck to ward off evil spirits.
Other’s felt the herb was blessed because the five petals were said to resemble the five wounds on Christ’s body. By the end of the 13th century the flower design was used in churches on walls and columns.
The roots are said to smell like cloves and in the past a tea was made of the roots and many felt the plant had natural antibiotic qualities to kill germs in the mouth.
Magically the Aven plant is used to ward off venomous beasts. It is used in exorcisms and the ground up root is sprinkled around the house to keep evil from entering. It is also used to purify a home or place. Some Native American men use it to find love with the opposite sex.
Avens is a pretty little flower and I always enjoy seeing it bloom. It can be highly invasive and take over a flower bed if not kept in check. I always pull up most of the seedlings leaving only one or two here and there to enjoy!