Culver’s root

Veronicastrum virginicum

Culver’s root is best known as an ornamental plant, much loved for its stunning spikes of white flowers. Less known and less seen are its bitter roots which have a long history of use in Native American herbal traditions.

Native to Eastern and Central regions of the United States, culver’s root was reportedly used by indigenous people to treat a range of ailments, including as a diaphoretic (to induce sweating), emetic (to induce vomiting), laxative, and as a remedy for fevers, dysentery, constipation, and liver complaints. It was later adopted by European settlers and eventually found its way into Western herbal practice, primarily as a bitter herb to support digestion and cleanse the liver.

It is a favourite of ours at Earthsong Seeds; its distinctive flower spikes provide a unique and contrasting aesthetic to the more typically rounded plants of the herb garden. It is a perennial that grows to around 1.5m in height when it is in full bloom in mid to late summer. Generally speaking it prefers full sunshine and well-drained soil, but we grow it in a variety of locations and soil types and have found it to be very adaptable.

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