Stachys sylvatica / Bosandoorn ea soorten

De bosandoorn (Stachys sylvatica) is een overblijvende, wel wat woekerende plant uit de lipbloemenfamilie (Labiatae of Lamiaceae).

De taaie stengels zijn ruw behaard en vierkantig. De hoogte is 30-120 cm. De bosandoorn groeit op beschaduwde plaatsen in bossen en heggen. Bij kneuzing van de plant scheidt deze een vreemde paddenstoelachtige geur af. Fijngesipperd kan het in boter meegestoofd worden om eiergerechten te aromatiseren (champignonsmaak?). Ook geplet in geitenkaas is het te gebruken.

De tweelippige bloem is purperachtig bruin met witte vlekjes en heeft een doorsnede van 1-1,5 cm. De kelk heeft vijf smalle tanden en beschikt over klierhaartjes. Er worden schijnkransen gevormd van zes bloemen samen, die zich openen van juni tot augustus. De vrucht bestaat uit vier nootjes.

Stachys sylvatica, commonly known as hedge woundwort, whitespot, or sometimes as hedge nettle, is a perennial herb growing to 80 cm tall in woodland and unmanaged grassland. In temperate zones of the northern hemisphere it flowers in July and August. The flowers are purple. The leaves, when crushed or bruised, give off an unpleasant fetid smell. Hedge woundwort is popular with bees. Along with its close relatives field woundwort and marsh woundwort, as their common names suggest, they are used to promote the healing of wounds.

Chemical analysis of the woundwort plant has revealed that the most helpful elements enclosed by the herb include betulinic acid, delphinidin, D-camphor, manganese, hyperoside, oleanolic acid, rutin, rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid and also a variety of tannins and saponins.

Woundwort has antispasmodic and sedative properties when taken internally. I have found references in old herbals to it being used for menstrual and ovary pain, cramps and aching joints.

My personal subjective experience with Woundwort was that it has an uplifting effect on the spirits and I was pleased to find the following confirmation of this in an old herbal: ‘a distilled water of the flowers makes the heart merry, to make a good colour in the face, and to make the vitall spirits more fresh and lively’.

John Gerard, the famous 17th century herbalist, recorded the use of Marsh Woundwort , which is closely related to Hedge Woundwort , by country people when on a visit to Kent:

‘a very poor man in mowing of Peason did cut his leg with the Seith, wherin he made a wound to the bones, and withal very large and wide, and also with great effusion of blood, the poor man crept unto this herb which he brused with his hands, and tied a great quantitie of it unto the wound with a piece of his shirt’. He was soon well, poulticing the wound ecah day with the herb made into a salve with lard. Gerard saw the wound and offered to treat the wound for free, but the man refused saying he could heal it as well himself, which Gerard thought was a clownish answer, whereupon he named the plant ‘Clounes Woundwort’. Gerard was so impressed by the speedy healing of the wound, which took only a week, that he tell us that he went on to use this wonderful herb to heal gentleman badly wounded in pub brawls in Elizabethan London, and a shoemaker’s servant who stabbed himself in the stomach and in the throat- ‘a most mortall wound…in such sort, that when I gave him drink it came forth at the wound, and likewise did blowe out a candle’.

To make an ointment of Woundwort:

Pick a bunch of the herb during its flowering period. Cut it up and bruise it in a pestle and mortar, or give it a good bash with a rolling pin. Place it in a double-boiler (or in a basin over a pan of boiling water) and just cover with olive oil. Apply gentle heat for 2-3 hours. Avoid too much heat or the herbs get deep-fried. Strain the herb through a cloth and measure the oil. For every 100mls of oil you will need 10g of beeswax. Heat the oil again and stir in the bees wax until melted, then pour into clean glass pots and leave to cool and set.

This ointment can be used for all cuts and scratches, making sure the wound has been thoroughly cleaned before applying it. Keep the ointment in the fridge to prolong its shelf life.

Culinary uses

Woundwort, especially its tuberous roots, are edible and eaten both raw and cooked. It is considered to be a healthy and nourishing food having a pleasing gentle nutty taste. One may also prepare bread and other items by using the dried and pounded powder of the tuberous woundwort roots. The tubers of this plant are formed during autumn. While they are somewhat small in size, the tuberous roots are moderately smooth and formed in reasonable amounts and, hence, they are not very difficult to use. The young shoots of the herb can also be consumed after cooking much in the same way as asparagus. Hence, these shoots are often used as a substitute for asparagus. Although the shoots have a pleasing flavour, their smell is disgusting.

The genus Stachys

The genus Stachys, one of the largest genera of the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) family with around 300 taxa, is widely distributed across the world from tropical to subtropical regions [1,2]. The genus is geographically wide spread and found mostly in the Mediterranean, South Western Asia, North and South America and South Africa.The native species are, however, absent in New Zealand and Australia [3]. The species name originates from the Greek and means “an ear of grain” referring to the inflorescence spike found in many members. Many Stachys species are used in decoctions or infusions for the treatment of skin, stomach, ulcer, asthma, rheumatic disorders and vaginal tumors [4,5]. Some members of genus have been reported to be used as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agents. Moreover, their antianxiety, antioxidant and antinephritic properties have also been reported [4,5]. In Mediterranean regions and Iran, the species are consumed as herbal remedies and wild tea (mountain tea) [4,5]. Despite the widespread consumption as herbal teas in these regions there is limited reports for use as foods or food supplements. However, roots of some species have been reported to be used as a food source in some parts of Europe and in China [6,7]. Several studies and ethno-botanical notes are available indicating the consumption of species like thyme in Mediterranean culture [8]. Although members of the species are widespread throughout North Europe and East Asia, most of the studies on essential oil compositions of Stachys species were carried out on the plants grown in Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro.

A review of the literature indicated that use of the species as herbal remedies is common. Dating back to Egyptian civilizations decoctions of Stachys species have been used in all cultures across the world. Although some species have extremely unpleasant taste and smell, most of the species are used to prepare teas and alcohol extracts for human consumption or treatment. Antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-ulcer, antianxiety, anti-inflammatory, anti-nephritic properties of the species are well described in the literature. Stachys officinalis was an official herb of the apothecary, believed to have magical healing powers and cultivated in gardens. Nowadays, in many European gardens, S. byzantina, lamb’s ear, is cultivated rather than S. officinalis. S. inflata is widely used to treat infection and asthma, and in the treatment of rheumatic disease in Iran. Antibacterial and antifungal activity patterns of the essential oils of Stachys species from Turkey and Greece are reported. Stachys species are consumed in Mediterranean areas, including Turkey, Greece, Italy, Balkan countries and Lebanon due to the potential antibacterial activities. Many other Stachys species such as Stachys pumila Banks & Sol., are used as a wild tea in Anatolia due to their antibacterial and healing effects [9]. Generally, the tea is prepared from the whole part of the plant and the leaves for their sedative, antispasmodic, diuretic and emmenagogic properties. The species occasionally also used to cure diarrhea, sore throat, internal hemorrhage, and for weakness of liver and heart [10]. The anti-Helicobacter pylori effect of the species has also been reported [11] which corresponds with the ethnobotanical use for thousands of years against stomach ulcer around the world (Table 1). One of the Stachys species, S. recta, has been included in the European Pharmacopeia and Stachys officinalis reported in Anthroposophic Pharmaceutical Codex (APC). Although some of the species such as S. sylvatica, S. recta and S. annua are reported to be poisonous, their consumption in different countries has been reported. These species are widely used as food rather than medicinal teas in China [12].

Usage and Applications in Food Science

According to ethnobotanical studies and the literature survey, a similar pattern of consumption of Stachys species throughout Europe to the East Asia has been documented. From Europe to Iran, it is generally consumed as herbal tea due to its volatile components and phenolic species. However, it is generally consumed as a rich carbohydrate source in East Asia. In Poland, Stachys palustris is used as a food source because of the presence of large amount of edible tubers which are used as soup and vodka additives, in salads and raw as snacks [7]. Similar consumptions were also observed in Sweden, Ukrain and Great Britain. During food shortages in Europe the dried powder of the Stachys species was used as an additive for bread [7]. Therefore, the species is also called “mayday flour”. The cooked form of S. palustris is slightly sweet because of its high and digestible carbohydrate content which provide a reason to be consumed against diabetes. A similar use was also reported in China for the species S. floridana Schuttl.ex. Benth [12]. The tubers are of nutritional value, not only to human but also wild pigs foraging in forests in Europe. In China and Japan another species, S. affinis Bunge is cultivated for consumption of its tubers. As they are rich in carbohydrate content they are called Chinese artichoke. The cooking processes are similar to European countries. Similarly, another species, S. kouyangensis (Vaniot) Dunn var. francheitiana is also consumed by Tibetans as a wild food source in boiled and stir-fried forms [4]. The species in China, S. geobombycis, known as DongChongXiaCao, has been used for medical applications and as tonic for thousands of years.

Interestingly, this species also use in Europe, China and Japan for similar properties. A careful overview indicates that the ethnobotanical use of genus is widely as a herbal tea particularly in the region covering from Mediterranean to Iran. Similarly, this type of consumption of the species is observed in South America. For example, in Peru, decoctions of the aerial parts of Stachys sp. LAM has been consumed as traditional medicine for thousands of years [14]. This is a very interesting example of similar behaviors of people living in different geographies toward an opportunity offered by the nature. Essential oil compositions of S. lavandulifolia Vahl, S. setifera C.A.Mey. subsp. iranica, S. schtschegleevii Sosn, S. balansae Boiss & Kotschy, S. byzantina C. Koch , S. laxa Boiss. & Buhse and S. pubescens Ten. S. obtusicrena species were reported in Iran. Generally, infusion or decoction (as tea) form of at least nine different species have been reported in the literature. The leaves of S. inflata Benth and S. schtschegleevii Sosn are consumed against asthma, rheumatism and infectious diseases. It is also used as an anti inflammatory agent against influenza. The other species, S. byzantina K. Koch, is used for the treatment of infected wounds. S. turcomanica Trautv is used for the treatment of foot inflammation, bronchitis, toothache and influenza. The purpose of the applications of the species is very similar to sage and thyme in the same regions. Together with their phenolic composition, the essential oil content of the species have an important role against the disorders and several types of pain (Table 1). The most common applications of S. lavandulifolia Vahl species are against fever, spasm, gastrodynia, dyspepsia, and flatulence. They also have sedative and anxiolytic effects. In Iran, the species S. germanica is a traditional medicine used in the treatment of painful menstruation and gastrodynia [15]. Consumption of the tea form of S. lavandulifolia Vahl, S. balansae Boiss & Kotschy, S. laxa Boiss. & Buhse is also reported in Azerbaijan. In Turkey, the following Stachys species S. balansae, S. recta, S. balansae, S. atherocalyx, S. obliqua, S. cretica subsp. cassia, S. cretica subsp. garana, S. cretica subsp. lesbiaca, S. cretica subsp. smyrnaea, S. cretica subsp. kutahyensis, S. viticina, S. obliqua, S. balansae,, S. sericantha, S. pinetorum, S. bayburtensis, S. huber-morathii, S. huetii, S. tmolea, S. germanica subsp. heldreichii, S. bithynica, S. cretica subsp .anatolica, S. cretica subsp. bulgarica, S. spectabilis, S. thirkei, S. carduchorum and S. longispicata are widely used as herbal teas due to their antibacterial properties.

Especially, the species such as S. cretica subsp. anatolica, S. cretica subsp. mersinaea, S. lavandulifolia subsp. lavandulifolia, S. annua subsp. annua var. lycaonica, S. iberica subsp.georgica, S. cretica subsp. smyrnaea, and S. obliqua are used in the form of herb, infusion and decoction as a remedy for the treatment of cold, stomach ailments, fever and cough [16-22]. The pleasant smelling species are also used as topic over the plates in Turkey. Essential oil composition of the species is one Gören, Rec. Nat. Prod. (2014) 8:2 71-82 80 of the main reasons of their consumption as tea in Anatolian ethnobotany, however, the species also consists of glycosides, saponins, polyphenols, tannins, phenolic acids, flavonoids and diterpenoids together with essential oils, mono and sesquiterpenoids. Therefore, the synergetic effects of the component chemicals could be the main reason of consumption of their flowers and aerial parts as tea in Anatolian culture. In Italy, the essential oil composition of S. sylvatica, S. glutinosa, S. palustris, and S. spinosa has reported, however, the species do not appear to have a significant ethnobotanical use as a food or tea. Although use of S. sylvatica as a tea has been reported, it was said to have an unpleasant smell. The bitter taste of the some Stachys species such as S. annua, S. balansae and S. byzantina could be common for their bitter diterpenic bicyclic keto-diels, which were reported to be Stachysolone, Annuanone, Stachone and Stachylone [23]. The essential oil compositions of S. candida, S. alopecuros, S. cretica subsp. cretica, S. germanica subsp. heldreichii, S. spinulosa, S. euboica and S. menthifolia from Greece were reported without any information on their consumption. However, some taxa of the species such as S. cretica were reported to be used as tea in Turkey. It could be concluded that the species are also consumed as herbal tea in Greece, but more information is required for such a conclusion. The aerial parts of S. sylvatica, S. plumosa, S. recta and S. scardica are consumed as herbal teas in Serbia. The properties of S. sylvatica were also reported in Kosovo. Additionally, S. officinalis are consumed as dried leaves and sprinkled over plates of food in Serbia; similar consumption was reported in Montenegro and Egypt (for references see Table 1). According to the above information, it is clear that the species of Stachys is consumed mostly in tea form and some of the species are used as a carbohydrate source. The species S. floridana Schuttl. ex. Benth., also named as “yinmiao”, is an important traditional Chineese vegetable for human consumption. The roots of S. floridana are high in the tetrasaccharide stachyose. It consists of glucose, fructose and two galactose molecules. Some extraction methods for this compound have been developed and yield up to 47% stachyose. This tetrasaccharides plays an important role as a freezeing protectant in the roots of the species. Generally, this kind of saccharides can be used as a potential sugar substitute and recommended as a healthy food [12,24].

Considering the moderate antibacterial and antifungal activities of essential oil of Stachys species [5], and potential antioxidant activities of several extracts, the species of Stachys may be used as an alternative protecting agent for food industry. The extracts and essential oils of some of the species from Lamiaceae family have been used as traditional medicine for some diseases, as a food source and food preservative for thousands of years. Stachys species are one of those species. In tea form the bicyclic diterpenoid compounds of some Stachys species produce an unpleasant smell, however, the essential oil of S. pubescens, S. fruticulosa, S. annua, S. inflata and some other species have a pleasant lemon odor [23]. Moreover, essential oil contents of some species are used as an additive to improve the taste and flavor of yogurt. In conclusion, the yield of essential oil of Stachys species is lower than other Lamiaceae family members (e.g. Origanum, Satureja, Sideritis, Salvia, Thymus) however, the consumption pattern of the species is reported to be quite similar to the other members of the family. Although, a small number of species of Stachys have an unpleasant smell, due to essential oil composition, most of them have a pleasant smell. They are consumed as herbal tea in the major parts of the world, and due to their moderate antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant capacity, they are widely used as herbal remedy in alternative medicine. Tubers or roots of the species are rich in carbohydrates and are used as a main dish in some part of the world.


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Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(18):1676-81. Essential oil composition and antioxidant activity of Stachys sylvatica L. (Lamiaceae) from different wild populations in Kosovo. Hajdari A1, Novak J, Mustafa B, Franz C.

Leaves and inflorescences of Stachys sylvatica L. (Lamiaceae) were collected from three different wild populations in Kosovo to study the natural variation of the chemical composition of essential oils, total flavonoids, total phenolics and the antioxidant activity. Essential oils were obtained by steam distillation and analysed by GC-FID and GC-MS, whereas total flavonoids, total phenolics and antioxidant activities were determined by spectrophotometric methods. Yields of essential oils ranged from 0.001% to 0.007% (v per dry weight). Twenty-eight volatile constituents were identified. The main constituents were α-pinene, β-pinene and germacrene-D. Total phenolics ranged from 39.3 to 70.8 mg g⁻¹ dry mass, whereas total flavonoid content ranged from 30.44 to 70.63 mg g⁻¹ dm. The antioxidant activity, as measured by the DPPH method, exhibited a rather high degree of activity ranging from 25.5% to 57.2%, whereas the FRAP antioxidant activity showed a lower variability and ranged from 93 to 133.4 mg g⁻¹ dm