Astrantia australis Huter & Porta ex H.Wolff
Astrantia candida Mill.
Astrantia carinthiaca Hoppe ex W.D.J.Koch
Astrantia caucasica Willd. ex Spreng.
Astrantia elatior Friv.
Astrantia europaea L. ex Rehmann
Astrantia intermedia M.Bieb.
Astrantia montana Clairv.
Astrantia nigra Scop.
Astrantia pallida J.Presl ex W.D.J.Koch
Astrantia saniculifolia Salisb.
Astrantia vulgaris Dalla Torre & Sarnth.
Sanicula astrantia Garsault
Common Name: Great Masterwort
Cultivated flowering plant in Helsinki, Finland
Photograph by: Anneli Salo
Astrantia major is a herbaceous, perennial plant forming a cluster of erect stems 60 - 90cm tall from a spreading, stoloniferous rootstock[
]. Plants can form extensive colonies, spreading both at the roots and by seeds[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is more commonly grown as an ornamental, valued for its long flowering display and its flowers, which can be dried and used in arrangements.
C. and E. Europe - Germany to Spain, east to Ukraine and the Balkans; W. Asia - Azerbaijan
Moist woodlands and the banks of streams[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Astrantia major grows best in areas with cooler summers, where night-time temperatures consistently fall below 20°c[
]. Plants are winter hardy to at least -17°c[
Prefers a fertile moisture-retentive soil[
]. Succeeds in most well-drained soils[
] in full sun or part shade[
]. Succeeds in an open woodland and along the sides of streams so long as the soil is well above the water level[
When well-suited, plants can spread very freely by means of underground runners[
There are some named varieties, selected for their ornamental value[
The flowers are sometimes dried and used for winter decoration[
A decoction of the root is purgative[
]. The root is harvested in summer to early autumn and can be dried for later use[
An infusion of the whole plant is a gentle diuretic[
Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[
]. Sow stored seed as early in the year as you can obtain it. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown in situ either as soon as it is ripe or in the following spring.
Division in spring. Large clumps can be planted out straight into their permanent positions. Smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well and can then be planted out in the summer.