Ancient Echoes: The Cultural and Spiritual Symbolism of Agrimony

Agrimony flowers are a great way to say “thank you.” In the Victorian language of flowers, these cheerful yellow blooms symbolize gratitude and thankfulness. Since ancient times, different species of agrimony (Agrimonia) have long been prized for their medical and culinary uses, making it a valuable plant in cultures worldwide. Read on to learn more about the meaning and symbolism of the agrimony flower.

Agrimony Flower Meaning: Unveiling Cultural Stories, Myths, and Symbolism

Agrimony Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Etymology

The genus name Agrimonia comes from the Greek word argemṓnē, or poppy. Agrimony is often used as the common name for any of the species within the genus.

Agrimony Meaning in Floriography 

In the Victorian era, expressing your emotions openly was often frowned upon, especially by upper-class members. High society adopted (and adapted) a communication practice from the 17th-century Ottoman Empire known as floriography.

In floriography, flowers have their own specific meanings — sometimes more than one. People used flowers to create and communicate coded messages without saying a word. The type, color, number, and even the way the flowers were given could send particular symbolic meanings.

In the Victorian language of flowers, agrimony symbolizes gratitude and thankfulness. Giving a gift of agrimony is a great way to let someone know that you are grateful, appreciate them, and feel thankful.

Common Agrimony Flower Colors and Their Meaning 

Common Agrimony Flower Colors and Their Meaning

There are about 15 species of flowers in the Agrimonia genus. All bloom with spikes of yellow flowers. In floriography, yellow colors are often associated with cheerfulness, happiness, and friendship. They’re a great way to say thank you, happy birthday, or a job well done.

In other cultures around the world, the color yellow has different meanings. These may include beauty, royalty, abundance, or honoring the dead.

The Meaning of Agrimony Flowers in Ancient Times

Agrimony flowers have been valued since ancient times. The Greeks used the plants to treat eye, liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal problems.

The ancient Romans also used agrimony to improve liver and kidney health. The Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder referred to agrimony as an “herb of princely authority.” Dioscorides, the father of pharmacology, used agrimony to treat snake bites.

The ancient Druids also valued agrimony and included it among their sacred herbs. The Celts infused the plants into an oil along with juniper and used in anointing rituals.

Myths and Folklore Associated with Agrimony

In astrology and floral symbolism associated with the zodiac, agrimony flowers are associated with the Cancer sign.

In many Europe cultures, the flowers have long been associated with magical or spiritual properties. It was thought that agrimony offered protection against witchcraft. 

In British folklore, it’s said that putting a stem of agrimony under someone’s head will cause them to sleep until the flowers are removed.

Suitable Occasions to Gift Agrimony Flowers

Agrimony’s cheerful yellow flower spikes made a perfect addition to a floral gift for a birthday, congratulations, graduation, a housewarming, or anytime you want someone to know you’re thinking of them.

They’re also a great way to say “thank you” In the language of flowers, agrimony stands for thankfulness and gratefulness.

Uses and Benefits of Agrimony

Uses and Benefits of Agrimony

Agrimony has been valued for its medicinal uses for hundreds of years. The Anglo-Saxons used agrimony for several purposes. In the medieval era, Agrimonia plants were used to treat soldiers’ wounds and snake bites. Then, it was called “garclive.”

The plants appear in literature; Chaucer wrote of agrimony (he spelled it egrimoyne) and recommended it be mixed with mugwort and vinegar to treat wounds and back aches. Another author from that period suggested agrimony be ingested with human blood and mashed-up frogs as a treatment for hemorrhaging.

The French writer and diplomat Philip de Comines wrote of the plant as a treatment for gunshots in the 1476 battle. It’s also long been included in Bach flower remedies.

In parts of Europe, the plants are still used to treat various ailments. For instance, in France, agrimony is frequently used as part of a poultice of herbs to treat bruises and sprains.

Herbalists use agrimony to treat intestinal issues and as a tonic and astringent. When used as a tea, the plant can be garbled to aid a sore throat or calm a cough.

For centuries, agrimony has been used to treat kidney and liver issues. For instance, the English herbalist John Gerard wrote that agrimony leaves were good for people with “naughty livers.” The 18th-century botanist John Hill recommended an infusion of agrimony roots and honey to treat jaundice.

Modern science provides insight into the medicinal uses of agrimony. Studies show that common agrimony (A. eupatoria) contains a number of bioactive compounds, including antioxidants and flavonoids, that may have immuno-boosting, astringent, diuretic and antimicrobial properties. Research also indicates that hairy agrimony (A. pilosas) offers a tapeworm treatment; this species is also an ingredient in Chinese medicine for lung cancer.

Agrimony plants are used to make yellow dye. The color of the dye deepens the later the plants are gathered.

Beneficial pollinators, like bees and butterflies, are attracted to the yellow flowers. Some species of butterflies, such as the grizzled skipper, use the plants as food for larvae.

About Agrimony

The common name “agrimony” is used for multiple species in the Agrimonia genus. This genus contains about 15 species, all with spikes of yellow flowers and deeply-cut foliage. Agrimonia belongs to the Rosaceae, or rose, family.

Agrimony is indigenous to temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, with one species native to Africa. A few species include:

  • A. eupatoria, a European native known as common agrimony, medicinal agrimony, sticklewort or church steeples (due to its pointed flower spikes)
  • A. rostellata, a North American native known as beaked or woodland agrimony
  • A. parviflora, a North American native known as swamp or harvestslice agrimony
  • A. gryposepala, a North American native known as hairy, common, or hooked agrimony

Depending on the species, agrimony grows up to 6 feet tall. It blooms with small yellow flowers along single spikes, with a slightly spicy fragrance.

Agrimony has pinnate leaves with serrated edges. The foliage is covered with hairs, which tend to stick to people’s clothing and animals’ fur. This resulted in the common names “hooked” and “sticklewort.”

It grows best in sites with well-draining soil and a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Plant in sites with full sun to partial shade. Avoid overwatering.

Agrimony Flower FAQs:

Is Agrimony Poisonous? 

Agrimony is not known to be toxic.

Is Agrimony an Annual or Perennial? 

The Agrimony plant is a perennial. It will die back in winter and return in spring.

How many different types of Agrimony are there? 

There are 12 to 15 species within the Agrimonia genus.

Where does Agrimony typically grow? 

Agrimony grows in temperate zones. It prefers well-draining, slightly alkaline soil and full sun to partial shade exposures.

Does Agrimony attract certain types of wildlife? 

Agrimony attracts beneficial pollinators. Some butterfly larvae use agrimony as food.

Is Agrimony suitable for cut flower arrangements? 

Agrimony’s yellow spikes are a wonderful addition to cut flower arrangements. It’s especially appropriate when you want to say thank you or show your gratitude.

What symbolic meanings are associated with Agrimony? 

In the language of flowers, agrimony symbolizes thankfulness and gratitude.

What are some companion plants that grow well with Agrimony? 

Choose plants that thrive in sunny sites with well-drained soil. These may include ‘Powis Castle’ wormwood (Artemisia Arborescens X Absinthium), yarrows (Yarrow spp.), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta), or catmint (Nepeta Faassenii).


Agrimony Flower Meaning – Wrapping Up

Agrimony adds a bright splash of color and height to the landscape with its yellow spikes of blooms. This attractive perennial has been valued for its medicinal uses since ancient times and comes with a rich folklore background. In the language of flowers, it stands for thankfulness and gratefulness, making it a perfect addition to floral gifts when you want to show appreciation.

For more, see our in-depth guide to Burdock and Arbutus flower meaning and symbolism.


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