(Agrimonia hirsuta) Rose family
(A. Eupatoria of Gray)
FlowersYellow, small, 5-parted, in narrow, spike-like racemes. Stem: Usually 3 to 4 ft. tall, sometimes less or more clothed, with long, soft hairs. Leaves : Large, thin, bright green, compounded of (mostly) 7 principal oblong, coarsely saw-edged leaflets, with pairs of tiny leaflets between.
Preferred HabitatWoods, thickets, edges of fields.
DistributionNorth Carolina, westward to California, and far north.
Quite a different species, not found in this country, is the common European AgrimonyA. Eupatoria of Linnaeuswhich figures so prominently in the writings of mediaeval herbalists as a cure-all. Slender spires of green fruit below and yellow flowers above curve and bend at the borders of woodlands here apparently for no better reason than to enjoy life. Very few insects visit them, owing to the absence of nectarcertainly not the highly specialized and intelligent Humble-Bee,” to whom Emerson addressed the lines:
“Succory to match the sky, Columbine with horn of honey, Scented fern and agrimony, Clover, catch-fly, adder’s-tongue, And brier-roses, dwelt among.”
It is true the bumblebee may dwell among almost any flowers, but he has decided preferences for such showy ones as have adapted themselves to please his love of certain colors (not yellow), or have secreted nectar so deeply hidden from the mob that his long tongue may find plenty preserved when he calls. Occasional visitors alighting on the agrimony for pollen may distribute some, but the little blossoms chiefly fertilize themselves. When crushed they give forth a faint, pleasant odor. Pretty, nodding seed urns, encircled with a rim of hooks, grapple the clothing of man or beast passing their way, in the hope of dropping off in a suitable place to found another colony.