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Common Name: Abcess Root
Polemonium reptans is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It has medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
Eastern N. America - New York to Minnesota, south to Kansas and Georgia.
Rich woods, damp ground and along shady river banks[
Prefers a moist well-drained fertile soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. Plants are best grown in a soil approaching that of a moraine and they must not be allowed to dry out in the summer[
Plants are hardy to about -20°c[
A number of named varieties have been selected for their ornamental value[
Plants have a creeping root and can multiply very quickly[
]. They can also self-sow to the point of nuisance[
The plants have a smell that attracts cats. The cats roll in the plants with evident pleasure and can cause considerable damage to young plants and ones that have recently been moved[
The dried roots have a slightly bitter and acrid taste[
]. They are alterative, astringent, diaphoretic, expectorant and pectoral[
]. They can be used in an infusion with water or as a tincture with alcohol[
]. They are used internally in the treatment of coughs, colds, bronchitis, laryngitis, tuberculosis, feverish and inflammatory diseases, including skin conditions and poisonous bites[
]. The root is rarely used in modern herbalism[
]. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[
A decoction of the whole plant is used as a hair rinse[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division in early spring or early autumn[
]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.