Pellitory of the wall – the herbal stone breaker

One of the many things I adore about plant medicines is that they are literally growing all around us. The world became a more beautiful place when I began to recognise familiar plant allies on my daily travels. Like a circle of good friends that keeps growing, each with their own unique talents and abilities to share and learn from.

This useful plant is Pellitory of the wall (Parietaria officinalis/diffusa) and as you can see from the photos, it loves to grow on walls. These photos were taken in urban residential streets around this time of year in London, Margate and Shoreham on Sea.

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Pellitory of the wall. The spider gives a sense of scale.

Best known for its positive action on the kidneys and urinary system, it is especially good at breaking down and dissolving stones (calculi) and gravel in the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract. It helps to rid the body of excess fluid and is also useful for cystitis, urethritis, nephritis and other kidney and urinary infections as well as soothing inflammation in the passages of the kidneys, bladder and prostate. Its waste eliminating actions make it useful in formulas for arthritis, rheumatism and gout as well as a tea or fresh poultice for cellulitis.

Coughs of a dry and persistent nature often respond well to regular doses of the tea made from 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb per cup, up to 3 cups daily.

The juice of the fresh plant was used in the past for relieving tinnitus and ear pains when dropped into the ears. It also makes a good healing poultice for wounds, especially wounds that are festering and discharging pus and for soothing skin irritations and inflammations, including sunburn. The fresh plant is rich in slimy and soothing mucilage which makes a great fresh poultice for the skin yet it also soothes internally irritated passages.

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A close up of the flowers

No need to rip it from its wall, just prune a few stems from the flowering plant and allow to dry thoroughly before storing in an airtight jar or use fresh as a tea or added to fresh apple juice. Label with the name, place and date of collection. I would avoid harvesting from sites on a busy road, look for pedestrianised walkways with no passing traffic ideally.

Being a member of the nettle family, its leaves are also edible, their taste being quite bland though so best added to fresh leafy salads. Standard dose of the dried leaves is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of herb per cup, up to 3 cups daily.

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Adorning a very attractive flint wall

*Take note that it is a serious contributor to the pollen count and is well known for provoking hay fever in those susceptible. If you are an allergic type with a sensitive immune response to allergens then it would be wise to avoid this herb in all its forms.

This link has some good info on pellitory of the wall. Scroll down to the comments for peoples experience of using it for food and medicine.


Medicinal properties of Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)

Medicinal properties of Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa)

Figwort is a very common plant in the UK but you’d be forgiven for not knowing it as it is very discreet, despite growing up to be 4-5 feet tall.  It prefers shady and slightly damp places such as woodland edges, hedgerows etc where it begins to show in spring, growing on until flowering in July/august. Its stems are tall and square whilst the flowers are quite few and far between, consisting of two lips, the tips of the upper lips being tinged with purple/red, really beautiful when you get close in. The flowers give way to tiny fig like seed pods.

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