Plant Profiler

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Ascorbic acid, avicularin, bridewort, brideswort, chalcones, condensed tannins, coumarin, dolloff, dropwort, English meadowsweet, ethylsalicylate, European meadowsweet, Filipendula occidentalis, Filipendula rubra, Filipendula ulmaria, Filipendula vulgaris, flavonoids, gaultherin, hydrolyzable tannins, hyperoside, lady of the meadow, Mädesüss (German), meadow queen, meadow sweet, meadow wart, meadow wort, meadsweet, methoxybenzaldehyde, methylsalicylate, monotropin, mountain spirea, mucilage, nature's aspirin, phenolic acids, phenolic glycosides, phenylcarboxylic acids, philipendula, plant heparin, pride of the meadow, queen of the forest, queen of the meadow, queen of the prairie, Rosaceae (family), rutin, salicin, salicylaldehyde, salicylates, salicylic acid, spiraea flos, spiraea herba, Spiraea ulmaria L., spiraein, spiraeoside, tannins, ulmaire (French), ulmaria (Spanish/Italian), vanillin, volatile oil.

Note: Meadowsweet and its relatives (Filipendula spp.) are not related to water dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) even though members of both genera may be referred to as "dropworts." Filipendula spp. are members of the Roseaceae family, while the Oenanthe spp. are members of the Umbelliferae family

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Through various lab tests, meadowsweet has been found to contain ascorbic acid, chalcones, condensed tannins11, coumarin, flavonoids (spiraeoside, rutin, hyperoside, and avicularin)5, heparin (plant)12,10, hydrolyzable tannins, mucilage, phenolic acids5, phenolic glycosides (including spiraein, monotropin, and gaultherin)13, phenylcarboxylic acids, salicin, salicylates, spiraeoside14, tannins2, and vanillin. Its volatile oil contains salicylaldehyde, ethylsalicylate, methylsalicylate, and methoxybenzaldehyde.
  • Analgesic effects: Salicylic aldehyde, a precursor for the production of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) has been isolated in large amounts from the flowerbuds of meadowsweet.
  • Antibacterial/antiseptic effects: Phenolic extracts of meadowsweet have shown in vitro antibacterial activity.1
  • Anticancer effects: Apolar extracts (chloroform and hexane) of meadowsweet had antiproliferative effects in B16 melanoma cells.3
  • An extract from meadowsweet possessed marked cytotoxicity, suppressing the growth of cultured human lymphoblastoid Raji cells at concentrations of 10 and 50μg/mL.15
  • Local administration of a decoction prepared from the flowers of meadowsweet resulted in a 39% drop in the frequency of squamous-cell carcinoma of the cervix and vagina induced in mice by 7,12-dimethyl-benz(a)anthracene treatment.7 Positive response was recorded in 32 mice (67%), including 25 cases (52%) of complete regression of dysplasia, out of 48 cases of cervical dysplasia treated with courses of ointment application. No recurrence was observed in 10 completely cured patients within 12 months.
  • Anticoagulant/antiplatelet effects: The flowers of meadowsweet contain heparin bound to plant proteins. This complex has anticoagulant and fibrinolytic properties of a nonenzymatic nature when administered to animals, both intramuscularly and intravenously. Protamine sulfate is able to neutralize the anticoagulant activity of the plant heparin. Similarity to heparin of animal origin has been established by examination of molecular weight, element content (sulphur, nitrogen, and hydrogen), spectral characteristics in the infrared region of the spectrum, and electrophoretic properties.12,10
  • The anticoagulant and fibrinolytic effects of both the flowers and seeds of meadowsweet were demonstrated after oral administration of the extracts. The seed extracts exert equally high anticoagulant effects when administered in vivo and in vitro.16
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Meadowsweet has been shown to have elastase inhibiting activity.2 From 42 Rosaceae species analyzed, only species in the Rosoideae subfamily (which includes meadowsweet) exhibit high tannin content and elastase inhibiting activity.
  • Antioxidant effects: Meadowsweet extracts possessed, for the most polar fractions (presence of phenolic compounds), high antioxidant activities.3 Meadowsweet extracts have also been found to have high antioxidant activity, as determined by autoxidation of methyl linoleate.6
  • The antioxidant activity of meadowsweet extracts has also been measured using chemoluminecent analysis4 and has also been investigated for use as a preservative in margarine5.
  • Antiulcerogenic activity: The decoction (1:10, 1:20) from flowers of meadowsweet reduced the ulcerogenic action of such procedures as ligation of the pylorus, immobilization, or fixation of rats.9 It lowered the formation of experimental lesions of the glandular part of the stomach after injections of reserpine to rats and mice or phenylbutazone to rats. The decoction was effective in prevention of the acetylsalicylic acid-induced lesions of the stomach in rats. It promoted healing of chronic ulcers of the rat stomach induced by injection of 70% ethanol into the wall of the lumen or the glandular part of the stomach. However, the decoction did not protect the rats from the ulcerogenic action of cinchophen and increased the bronchosphastic and ulcerogenic properties of histamine in guinea-pigs.
  • Hyperglycemic activity: Meadowsweet (consumed as 6.25% of the diet, for 9 days) did not reduce hyperphagia or polydipsia associated with streptozotocin in diabetic mice.8 The plant also did not significantly alter plasma glucose or insulin concentrations.
  • Uric acid excretion activity: Based on animal studies, the use of meadowsweet may promote uric acid excretion.


  • Insufficient available evidence.


  1. Rauha, J. P., Remes, S., Heinonen, M., Hopia, A., Kahkonen, M., Kujala, T., Pihlaja, K., Vuorela, H., and Vuorela, P. Antimicrobial effects of Finnish plant extracts containing flavonoids and other phenolic compounds. Int J Food Microbiol  5-25-2000;56(1):3-12. 10857921
  2. Lamaison, J. L., Carnat, A., and Petitjean-Freytet, C. [Tannin content and inhibiting activity of elastase in Rosaceae]. Ann Pharm Fr 1990;48(6):335-340. 2131766
  3. Calliste, C. A., Trouillas, P., Allais, D. P., Simon, A., and Duroux, J. L. Free radical scavenging activities measured by electron spin resonance spectroscopy and B16 cell antiproliferative behaviors of seven plants. J Agric Food Chem 2001;49(7):3321-3327. 11453770
  4. Ryzhikov, M. A. and Ryzhikova, V. O. [Application of chemiluminescent methods for analysis of the antioxidant activity of herbal extracts]. Vopr Pitan  2006;75(2):22-26. 16729755
  5. Sroka, Z., Cisowski, W., Seredynska, M., and Luczkiewicz, M. Phenolic extracts from meadowsweet and hawthorn flowers have antioxidative properties. Z Naturforsch [C] 2001;56(9-10):739-744. 11724378
  6. Kahkonen, M. P., Hopia, A. I., Vuorela, H. J., Rauha, J. P., Pihlaja, K., Kujala, T. S., and Heinonen, M. Antioxidant activity of plant extracts containing phenolic compounds. J Agric Food Chem 1999;47(10):3954-3962. 10552749
  7. Peresun'ko, A. P., Bespalov, V. G., Limarenko, A. I., and Aleksandrov, V. A. [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. 7825300
  8. Swanston-Flatt, S. K., Day, C., Bailey, C. J., and Flatt, P. R. Evaluation of traditional plant treatments for diabetes: studies in streptozotocin diabetic mice. Acta Diabetol Lat  1989;26(1):51-55. 2750445
  9. Barnaulov, O. D. and Denisenko, P. P. [Anti-ulcer action of a decoction of the flowers of the dropwort, Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim]. Farmakol Toksikol  1980;43(6):700-705. 7450008
  10. Kudriashov, B. A., Liapina, L. A., and Azieva, L. D. [The content of a heparin-like anticoagulant in the flowers of the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)]. Farmakol Toksikol  1990;53(4):39-41. 2226759
  11. Stenberg, J. A., Witzell, J., and Ericson, L. Tall herb herbivory resistance reflects historic exposure to leaf beetles in a boreal archipelago age-gradient. Oecologia  2-25-2006;16502319
  12. Kudriashov, B. A., Ammosova, IaM, Liapina, L. A., Osipova, N. N., Azieva, L. D., Liapin, G. I., and Basanova, A. V. [Heparin from the meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and its properties]. Izv Akad Nauk SSSR Biol  1991;(6):939-943. 1809785
  13. Thieme, H. [Isolation of a new phenolic glycoside from the blossoms of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim]. Pharmazie 1966;21(2):123. 5982978
  14. Poukens-Renwart, P., Tits, M., Wauters, J. N., and Angenot, L. Densitometric evaluation of spiraeoside after derivatization in flowers of Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. J Pharm Biomed Anal  1992;10(10-12):1085-1088. 1298367
  15. Spiridonov, N. A., Konovalov, D. A., and Arkhipov, V. V. Cytotoxicity of some Russian ethnomedicinal plants and plant compounds. Phytother Res 2005;19(5):428-432. 16106386
  16. Liapina, L. A. and Koval'chuk, G. A. [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. 8358277

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