Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim.

Last updated: 20 April 2016

Scientific Name

Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim.


Filipendula denudata (J.Presl & C.Presl), Fritsch Filipendula glauca (Schultz) Asch. & Graebn. ex Dalla Torre & Sarnth., Filipendula megalocarpa Juz., Filipendula subdenudata Fritsch, Spiraea contorta Stokes, Spiraea denudata J.Presl & C.Presl, Spiraea glauca Schultz, Spiraea odorata Gray, Spiraea palustris (Moench) Salisb., Spiraea quinqueloba (Baumg.) Spreng., Spiraea ulmaria L., Spiraea unguiculata Dulac, Thecanisia discolor (W.D.J.Koch) Raf., Thecanisia ulmaria (L.) Raf. ex B.D.Jacks., Ulmaria denudata (J.Presl & C.Presl), Opiz Ulmaria glauca (Schultz) Fourr., Ulmaria obtusiloba Opiz, Ulmaria palustris Moench, Ulmaria pentapetala Gilib., Ulmaria quinqueloba Baumg., Ulmaria spiraea-ulmaria Hill, Ulmaria ulmaria (L.) Barnhart, Ulmaria vulgaris Hill [1]

Vernacular Name

English Bridewort, lady of the meadow, meadow-wort, meadow queen, meadow sweet, mountain spirea, pride of the meadow [2], doll off, meadsweet [3]

Geographical Distributions

Filipendula ulmaria is thought to originate in Asia and Europe, and specifically Scotland where it was used to dye fabric. It is now found globally.  It needs moist, rich soil and grows along roadsides and empty fields.  F. ulmaria can survive long cold winters making it easy to cultivate in gardens, however, it does need warm days to thrive. [3]

Botanical Description

F. ulmaria is family member of Rosaceae. It is an herbaceous perennial which stands erect, averaging a height between 50 cm and 2 m.  [4]

The stem is simple and woody at the base of the plant.  As it grows upwards, the stem becomes more fleshy and branched.  The leaves of F. ulmaria grow opposite one another on the leafstalk, and are heavily veined and toothed.  [4]

The leaves can grow to a length of almost 60 cm at the base of the plant, and gradually become smaller, the further toward the apex they are.  Each pair of pinnate leaves is separated by tiny leaflets which cling to the stem and are usually no more than 1 cm across.  F. ulmaria blooms in early summer, roughly May to July, and produces pleasantly fragrant flower cymes.  Each cyme is irregular and erect and contains small yellow-white flowers which are usually no more than 6 mm long. [4]

Each flower contains five to six downy sepals and five to six petals, and are densely packed on the cyme.  The seeds of F. ulmaria are non-descript. [4]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

The major constituents of F. ulmaria include salicylates, (salicin, salicylaldehyde, and methyl salicylate). [5] Flavonoids include the flavonol glycosides rutin, hyperin, quercetin, and spiraeoside. [6][7] Other constituents include hexahydroxydiphenic acid esters of glucose and tannins (10-20%), essential oils (salicylaldehyde (75%), as well as phenylethyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, anisaldehyde, methyl salicylate, salicin, gaultherin, spiraein, spiraeoside, heliotropin, phenyl acetate, and vanillin) and heparin (in the flowers). [8][9]Additional constituents include mucilage, carbohydrates and minerals.

Plant Part Used


Traditional Use

F. ulmaria has been commonly used to treat the common cold, influenza, and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Early English herbalists reference the use of F. ulmaria for the treatment of rheumatic complaints of the joints and muscles and for promoting sweating to help relieve a cold or the flu. Early herbalists also have used F. ulmaria for digestive complaints such as heartburn and as a diuretic. [10]

Preclinical Data


Most traditional uses of F. ulmaria are based on the anti-inflammatory properties. The primary constituents in F. ulmaria responsible for anti-inflammatory activity are the salicylates, including salicin, salicylaldehyde, and methyl salicylate. [8] In the digestive tract, these compounds are oxidized into salicylic acid, which is chemically similar to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Extracts have anticoagulant activity in laboratory studies. [11]

F. ulmaria has been reported to have antimicrobial activity in laboratory studies. [12][13] In laboratory animals immunity was found to be increased due to decrease in the synthesis of interleukin-2 by splenocytes and by suppression of proinflammatory cytokines production in delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction. [14]

Antioxidant activity has been reported in the flowers of F. ulmaria and attributed to the flavone glycoside content (spiraeoside). [15] F. ulmaria has been reported to be hepatoprotective in laboratory studies. [16][17]

A laboratory animal study found positive results using a topical preparation from the flowers of F. ulmaria in the treatment of cervical dysplasia and cancer treatment. [18]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

F. ulmaria may induce bronchospasm, and should not be used in asthmatic patients. [19]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Avoid during pregnancy as it may promote uterine activity. [20]

Age limitation

F. ulmaria has been a reported to cause hypovolemic shock to 4-year-old boy. [21]

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


Dosage Range

Infusion: Steep 2 tbsp herb in 1 cup water. Drink 1 cup a day. [3]

Decoction: Boil 2 Tbsp. plant or dried rootstock in 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day. Or soak the dried rootstock in cold water for 6 hours, bring to a boil and steep for 1 or 2 minutes. [3]

Powder: Take ¼ to ½ tsp, 3 times a day. [3]

Juice: Take 1 tbsp a day in water [3]

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited, cited 2016 Oct 18]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 253.
  3. Lust J. The herb book. The most complete catalog of herbs ever published. US: Courier Corporation, 2014; p. 264.
  4. Plants for a future. Filipendula ulmaria. [homepage on the Internet]. c1996-2012 [cited 2016 May 9]. Available from:
  5. Henih HIa, Ladna LIa. Phytochemical study of the dropworts, Filipendula ulmaria and F. hexapetala, from the flora of Lvov Province. Farm Zh. 1980;(1):50-52. Ukrainian.
  6. Poukens-Renwart P, Tits M, Wauters JN, Angenot L. Densitometric evaluation of spiraeoside after derivatization in flowers of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 1992;10:1085-1088.
  7. Lamaison J, et al. Principal flavonoids of aerial parts of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. subsp. ulmaria and subsp. denudata . Pharm Acta Helv. 1992;67:218-222.
  8. Zeylstra H. Filipendula ulmaria. Br J Phytother. 1998;5:8-12.
  9. Lamaison JL, Carnat A, Petitjean-Freytet C. Tannin content and inhibiting activity of elastase in Rosaceae. Ann Pharm Fr. 1990;48(6):335-340.
  10. Barnaulov OD, Denisenko PP. Anti-ulcer action of a decoction of the flowers of the dropwort, Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. Farmakol Toksikol. 1980;43(6):700-705.
  11. Liapina LA, Koval'chuk GA. A comparative study of the action on the hemostatic system of extracts from the flowers and seeds of the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim.). Izv Akad Nauk Ser Biol. 1993;(4):625-628. Russian.
  12. Radulović N, Misić M, Aleksić J, Doković D, Palić R, Stojanović G. Antimicrobial synergism and antagonism of salicylaldehydein Filipendula vulgaris essential oil.  Fitoterapia. 2007;78(7-8):565-570.
  13. Rauha JP, Remes S, Heinonen M, et al. Antimicrobial effects of Finnish plant extracts containing flavonoids and other phenolic compounds. Int J Food Microbiol. 2000;56(1):3-12.
  14. Churin AA, Masnaia NV, Sherstoboev EIu, Shilova IV. Effect of Filipendula ulmaria extract on immune system of CBA/CaLac and C57Bl/6 mice. Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2008;71(5):32-36. Russian.
  15. Sroka Z, Cisowski W, Seredyńska M, Luczkiewicz M. Phenolic extracts from meadowsweet and hawthorn flowers have antioxidative properties. Z Naturforsch C. 2001;56(9-10):739-744.
  16. Shilova IV, Zhavoronok TV, Souslov NI, Novozheeva TP, Mustafin RN, Losseva AM. Hepatoprotective properties of fractions from meadowsweet extract during experimental toxic hepatitis. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2008;146(1):49-51.
  17. Shilova IV, Zhavoronok TV, Suslov NI, et al. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of meadowsweet extract during experimental toxic hepatitis. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2006;142(2):216-218.
  18. Peresun'ko AP, Bespalov VG, Limarenko AI, Aleksandrov VA. Clinico-experimental study of using plant preparations from the flowers of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim for the treatment of precancerous changes and prevention of uterine cervical cancer. Vopr Onkol. 1993;39(7-12):291-295. Russian.
  19. Blumenthal M, Brinckmann J, Goldberg A, eds. Herbal medicine: Expanded commission E-monographs. Newton, Massachusetts: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000; p. 253-256. 
  20. Moro PA, Flacco V, Cassetti F, et al. Hypovolemic shock due to severe gastrointestinal bleeding in a child taking an herbal syrup. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2011;47(3):278-283.