Cranesbill Root: Flavor Profile
Cranesbill is a species of germanium that grows wild in the woodlands of North America. The Native Americans used the root of the flower as a medicine, including in tinctures and poultice. The root is often used to make tea, with the strong bitter flavor being masked by citrus and honey.
Cranesbill root is primarily wild harvested in the Eastern U.S. And it’s known by many names, including Alum root, Old Maid’s Nightcap, Spotted Cranesbill and Wild Cranesbill. The plant gets its name from the fruit it produces in late summer, which resembles the beak of a crane.
Cranesbill Root: Common Uses
Cranesbill root is used primarily in natural medicine and can be used for many ailments and conditions. Typically, the root is prepared as a tincture, in which the root is soaked in pure grain alcohol. And it is also commonly soaked and mashed into a poultice, which can be placed topically on wounds.
The root contains many chemicals with therapeutic properties; tannins and gallic acid being the two most important, along with starch, pectin and resin. The root is used in preparations to treat:
- Gastrointestinal distress – Native Americans and early settlers used the root to treat dysentery and diarrhea.
- Mouth Ulcers – Ground cranesbill root was used by the Chippewa tribes to soothe ulcers, tooth aches and sore throat.
- Internal Bleeding – The root’s high tannin content provides antiseptic properties, as well as hemostatic properties, which is believed to slow or stop internal bleeding.
- Intestinal Cleanses – The root is believed to clean the intestinal tract and improve intestinal health. Today it’s found in many natural remedies for IBS and colitis.
History of Cranesbill Root
Prior to colonization, the majority of the eastern United State and Canada were dense woodlands. Cranesbill thrived throughout the forests, particularly in moist environments, and it grew in abundance.
Many Native American and First Nations tribes used the plant and its roots in traditional medicines. And it was widely collected, dried and stored for later use. The Chippewa, a Great Lakes tribe, were the first to show French traders the plant and its many uses.
The Chippewas used it to dress wounds, for bug bites, and as an eyewash. American settlers learned about the uses from the natives, and by the 19th century, it was a widely used folk remedy. Still today, the herb is recommended by herbalists and naturopaths.
Cranesbill is an herbaceous plant that grows to about two feet in height. The plant produces broad lobed leaves and rose-purple or violet flowers.
The plant is an early bloomer, with flowers showing from April to June, and the plant grows prolifically in the wild. Patches of the flowers can stretch for acres or more.
The root – which is actually a ginger-like rhizome – is quite long, growing up to four inches and features many branches. In the U.S., Cranesbill root is wild harvested, especially in Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York state. Yet, it has an extensive range, from Manitoba in the north, to Georgia in the south, and all the way to Oklahoma.
About Our Cranesbill Root
Our cranesbill root is wild-harvested in the U.S. We work with small suppliers in western states who source fresh cranesbill root, found in many public woodlands areas in the western U.S.