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Water Avens

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

An occasional species of damp and shady places in woodlands, pasture and fens.


  • Water Avens: cure all

    Post date: Wednesday, 15 February, 2017 - 21:02

    Water avens (Geum rivale) is another one of those flowers that are members of the rose family but when you first see it you probably not make the connection. As you look closer so the characteristics of the rose group of plants become more apparent.

    First of all, we associate roses as being woody, shrubby plants whereas water avens is far from that. It is a small vascular plant growing to about a foot tall, occasionally  in favourable conditions a bit higher.  It has a soft, flexible stem, this is reddish in colour and downy but, unlike rose shrubs it has no thorns. Each plant has multiple stems and each divides with each then producing a flower which is a characteristic of roses. The flowers bend the stem over and they appear to be bells; when you look at the bell closely you will find the five petals that roses feature. Further down the stem the leaves are trefoil, come to a pint and have a serrated edge, again recalling roses. 

    Water avens can be found in damp, shady places, often in woodlands, in marshes and by streams. They flower from April through until September and we have a lovely bunch by our garden pond. In general I have not found this to be particularly common in Dorset. It can hybridise with wood avens, the result being a flower not very much like either! It appears the name 'avens' may be of Anglo-Saxon origin so this flower has been around for some time!

    Wikipedia gives a series of other names for this plant including cure-all and yet gives no information about its medical properties or benefits. I guess if it cures all that is enough said, it cures all!



Common Name Water Avens
Scientific Name Geum rivale
Species Group Rose Family Rosaceae
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Family Rose family - Rosaceae
Status Scarce
Flower Colour Group Pink
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
Preferred Environment
Look for Distinctive downturned flower heads
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Rose Family Rosaceae