Geum urbanum, Wood Avens is also widely known as Herb Bennet. A member of the Rose family the genus Geum is commonly known as Avens, it is very closely related to the Potentilla (Barren Strawberries) and the Fragaria (Strawberries) a relationship reflected in the shape of the flower.
The species name urbanum just means urban (of the town or city). It is a species closely associated with man as it grows well on disturbed ground but also the burrs that carry the seeds tend to stick to men and their livestock and so follow them around.
I am going to look at how the small strawberry like flower develops into the hooked burr that is the seed head but first we should have a quick look at the calyx.
The calyx is made up of five sepals. Between each of the large sepals is a small bract called an episepal and they form an additional structure called the epicalyx. The sepals that form the calyx are there to enclose and protect the flower as it develops. The epicalyx just seems to add extra protection.
The whole of the plant is slightly hairy. The leaves are quite variable. At the base of the plant the leaves are quite rounded with toothed edges. They are trefoil, having a large leaf with two smaller leaves set at right angles at the base of the leaf stem.
The name Herb Bennet comes from an older name Herba benedicta which simply means Blessed Herb. The root of the plant was once worn as an amulet to protect from evil. It was believed that if you kept the root in your house then Satan could not enter and that a man wearing such an amulet was immune to the poison of beasts.
Species: Geum urbanum