...a perennial herb that grows all over the place. It spreads by its roots, sending up a long reddish stem and can be up to 120cm tall. The flowers are a spray of cream and have a heady perfume, garlands of it were traditionally worn at Lammas. The dark green leaves have a similar smell and were used as a strewing herb to give rooms a pleasant aroma in the days when such things were needed. The leaves and/or flowers can be used to flavour wine, beer, vinegars, stewed fruit and jams. Medicinally it is helpful for stomach upsets and many other digestive problems, and is a good anti-inflammatory for arthritis and rheumatic conditions. In the 1890s anti-inflammatory chemicals were extracted from this plant for the world's first patent drug, an 'aspirin' it was less irritating to the stomach lining than modern aspirin. Natural dyes can be obtained from this plant, black, reds and yellows depending on the mordant used.