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Common Name: Crosswort
Cruciata laevipes is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Europe, including Britain, from the Netherlands to Poland, south to S. Europe, W. Asia and Siberia.
Open woodland, scrub, hedges, waysides and pastures, especially on calcareous soils[
Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade[
]. Tolerates dry soils but the leaves quickly become scorched when growing in full sun[
]. This species does not thrive in a hot climate[
The flowers have a sweet powerful perfume[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
The herb is astringent, diuretic and vulnerary[
]. It is not much used nowadays, but was considered a very good wound herb for both external and internal use[
]. A decoction of the leaves has also been used to treat obstructions of the stomach and bowels, to stimulate the appetite and as a remedy for rheumatism, rupture and dropsy[
A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of new-mown hay as the plant dries[
]. Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry[
A red dye is obtained from the root[
Seed - best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer[
]. The seed can also be sown in spring though it may be very slow to germinate[
Division in spring or throughout the growing season if the plants are kept well watered[
]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.