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Filipendula ulmaria

Filipendula ulmaria


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Meadowsweet, Queen of the Meadow, dropwort, Bridewort, Lady of the Meadow


Filipendula ulmaria is commonly found northern and southern Europe, North America, and northern Asia. F. ulmaria flowers have been used for centuries in the flavoring of beer and mead. Most historical references point out that the flowers and the flowering tops were predominantly used in the making of herbal medicines, although a few references have discussed the use of the root. Salicin, a compound found in F. ulmaria, was used as a chemical precursor for acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) in the early 1800s.

F. ulmaria has been commonly used to treat the common cold, influenza, and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Early English herbalists reference the use of F. ulmaria for the treatment of rheumatic complaints of the joints and muscles and for promoting sweating to help relieve a cold or the flu. Early herbalists also have used F. ulmaria for digestive complaints such as heartburn and as a diuretic.[1]

F. ulmaria is an herbaceous perennial which stands erect, averaging a height between 50cm and 2m.  The stem is simple and woody at the base of the plant.  As it grows upwards, the stem becomes more fleshy and branched.  The leaves of F. ulmaria grow opposite one another on the leafstalk, and are heavily veined and toothed.  The leaves can grow to a length of almost 60cm at the base of the plant, and gradually become smaller, the further toward the apex they are.  Each pair of pinnate leaves is separated by tiny leaflets which cling to the stem and are usually no more than 1cm across.  F. ulmaria blooms in early summer, roughly May to July, and produces pleasantly fragrant flower cymes.  Each cyme is irregular and erect and contains small yellow-white flowers which are usually no more than 6mm long.  Each flower contains five to six downy sepals and five to six petals, and are densely packed on the cyme.  The seeds of F. ulmaria are non-descript.

Origin / Habitat

F. ulmaria is thought to originate in Asia and Europe, and specifically Scotland where it was used to dye fabric. It is now found globally.  It needs moist, rich soil and grows along roadsides and empty fields.  F. ulmaria can survive long cold winters making it easy to cultivate in gardens, however, it does need warm days to thrive.

Chemical Constituents

The major constituents of F. ulmaria include salicylates, (salicin, salicylaldehyde, and methyl salicylate).[2] Flavonoids include the flavonol glycosides rutin, hyperin, quercetin, and spiraeoside.[3],[4] Other constituents include hexahydroxydiphenic acid esters of glucose and tannins (10-20%), essential oils (salicylaldehyde (75%), as well as phenylethyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, anisaldehyde, methyl salicylate, salicin, gaultherin, spiraein, spiraeoside, heliotropin, phenyl acetate, and vanillin) and heparin (in the flowers).[5],[6] Additional constituents include mucilage, carbohydrates and minerals.

Plant Part Used


Medicinal Uses


Anti-inflammatory; used in arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
Colds and flu

Most Frequently Reported Uses

Anti-inflammatory; used in arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
Colds and flu


Dosage Range

As a tea: Take 2.5–3.5g of the flower or 4–5g of the herb in 150mL (1 cup) hot water as an infusion. Steep for 10 minutes and drink 1-3 times a day.
As a tincture (1:4 w/v): Take 2–4mL, 3 times a day.
As a fluidextract (1:1w/v): Take 1.5-6mL, 3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

3g of herb or flower as an infusion.

Standardized to

No standardization known.



Most traditional uses of F. ulmaria are based on the anti-inflammatory properties. The primary constituents in F. ulmaria responsible for anti-inflammatory activity are the salicylates, including salicin, salicylaldehyde, and methyl salicylate.[5] In the digestive tract, these compounds are oxidized into salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Extracts have anticoagulant activity in laboratory studies.[7]

F. ulmaria has been reported to have antimicrobial activity in laboratory studies.[8],[9] In laboratory animals immunity was found to be increased due to decrease in the synthesis of interleukin-2 by splenocytes and by suppression of proinflammatory cytokines production in delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction.[10]

Antioxidant activity has been reported in the flowers of F. ulmaria and attributed to the flavone glycoside content (spiraeoside).[11] F. ulmaria has been reported to be hepatoprotective in laboratory studies.[12],[13]

A laboratory animal study found positive results using a topical preparation from the flowers of F. ulmaria in the treatment of cervical dysplasia and cancer treatment.[14]


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

There are no known drug interactions with the use of F. ulmaria in recommended dosages.

Based on pharmacology, caution should be used when taking F. ulmaria in those with bleeding disorders or on anticoagulant therapy, such as aspirin or Coumadin or antiplatelet therapy.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Individuals allergic to aspirin or salicylates should not use F. ulmaria

F. ulmaria has been reported safe in recommended doses.

F. ulmaria may induce bronchospasm, and should not be used in asthmatic patients.[16]


Avoid during pregnancy as it may promote uterine activity.[15]

Age limitation

Children should not take F. ulmaria due to the possibility of developing Reye’s syndrome.

Adverse reaction

No documentation


  1. Barnaulov OD. Anti-ulcer action of a decoction of the flowers of the dropwort, Filipendula ulmaria (L.) MaximFarmakol Toksikol. Nov-Dec1980;43(6):700-705.
  2. Henih HI, Ladna LI. Phytochemical study of the dropworts, Filipendula ulmaria and F. hexapetala, from the flora of Lvov Province [in Ukrainian]. Farm Zh. 1980:(1):50-52.
  3. Poukens-Renwart P, Tits M, Wauters JN, Angenot L. Densitometric evaluation of spiraeoside after derivatization in flowers of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 1992;10:1085-1088.
  4. Lamaison J, et al. Principal flavonoids of aerial parts of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. subsp. ulmaria and subsp. denudata . Pharm Acta Helv. 1992;67:218-222.
  5. Zeylstra H. Filipendula ulmaria. Br J Phytother. 1998;5:8-12.
  6. Lamaison JL. Tannin content and inhibiting activity of elastase in Rosaceae. Ann Pharm Fr. 1990;48(6):335-340.
  7. Liapina LA. A comparative study of the action on the hemostatic system of extracts from the flowers and seeds of the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim.) Izv Akad Nauk Ser Biol. Jul-Aug1993;(4):625-628.
  8. Radulović N. Antimicrobial synergism and antagonism of salicylaldehydein Filipendula vulgaris essential oil.  Fitoterapia. Dec2007;78(7-8):565-570.
  9. Rauha JP. Antimicrobial effects of Finnish plant extracts containing flavonoids and other phenolic compounds. Int J Food Microbiol. 25 May2000;56(1):3-12.
  10. Churin AA. Effect of Filipendula ulmaria extract on immune system of CBA/CaLac and C57Bl/6 mice. Eksp Klin Farmakol. Sep-Oct2008;71(5):32-36.
  11. Sroka Z. Phenolic extracts from meadowsweet and hawthorn flowers have antioxidative properties. Z Naturforsch [C]. Sep-Oct2001;56(9-10):739-744.
  12. Shilova IV. Hepatoprotective properties of fractions from meadowsweet extract during experimental toxic hepatitis. Bull Exp Biol Med. Jul2008;146(1):49-51.
  13. Shilova IV. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of meadowsweet extract during experimental toxic hepatitis. Bull Exp Biol Med. Aug2006;142(2):216-218.
  14. Peresun'ko AP. Clinico-experimental study of using plant preparations from the flowers of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim for the treatment of precancerous changes and prevention of uterine cervical cancer. Vopr Onkol. 1993;39(7-12):291-295.
  15. Zeylstra H. Filipendula ulmaria . Br J Phytother. 1998;5:8-12.
  16. Blumenthal M, Brinckmann J, Goldberg A, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:253-256. 

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