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Water Avens

Geum rivale

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Marshes, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, rocky places, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
The flowers of Water Avens are characterized by their nodding, reddish-purple petals. These blooms add a touch of elegance to the plant and typically appear in late spring to mid-summer.
The fruit of Water Avens consists of small, dry achenes. These one-seeded fruits develop after the flowering period and contribute to the plant's reproductive cycle.
The basal leaves of Water Avens are pinnate and possess a slightly hairy texture. These toothed leaves contribute to the overall appearance of the plant, forming a lush and green foliage.
Water Avens typically has a mild and pleasant fragrance. Some varieties may exhibit a subtle scent, contributing to the overall sensory experience when encountering this flowering plant in its natural habitat.
Other Names:
Billy Buttons, Cure-all, Drooping Avens, Indian Chocolate, Nodding Avens, Purple Avens, Soldiers Buttons, Water Flower.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Geum rivale, also known as water avens or purple avens, is a perennial plant that is native to North America. It belongs to the rose family and is known for its small, purple flowers and hairy, green leaves. Geum rivale is a low-growing plant that is often found in wetland or aquatic areas. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Geum rivale prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as aphids and slugs. Geum rivale is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Water Avens, also known as Geum rivale, is a beautiful perennial wildflower that is native to North America and Europe. It is a member of the rose family and is known for its striking, bright yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.

One of the most unique characteristics of Water Avens is that it thrives in wet, marshy areas. It is often found along the edges of streams, ponds, and other bodies of water. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who have areas of their yard that are prone to standing water.

In addition to its tolerance of wet conditions, Water Avens is also quite easy to care for. It prefers partial shade to full sun, and can be grown in a variety of soil types as long as the soil is well-draining. It is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures and is not particularly susceptible to pests or diseases.

Water Avens is also a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance plant that provides a lot of visual interest. Its bright yellow flowers are a striking contrast against the green foliage, and the flowers are held above the leaves on tall, thin stems. The leaves are also quite attractive, with a glossy, dark green color and a slightly serrated edge.

If you are looking to add some color and interest to a wet, shady area of your yard, Water Avens is a great choice. It is easy to grow, low-maintenance, and adds a striking pop of yellow to any garden.

In addition to its beauty and easy care, Water Avens also has a number of ecological benefits. It is an important food source for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and is also a host plant for the caterpillars of several species of moths and butterflies.

It also plays an important role in wetland ecosystems, helping to stabilize the soil and reduce erosion. The roots of the plant can help to filter pollutants and excess nutrients from the water, making it a valuable addition to rain gardens and other types of stormwater management systems.

Water Avens is also a great choice for gardeners who are looking to incorporate native plants into their landscapes. As a native species, it is well-adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, and is more likely to thrive without the need for additional water or fertilizer. It is also more resistant to disease and pests, making it a more sustainable choice for the environment.

When it comes to planting Water Avens, it is best to plant it in the spring or fall. It is best to plant it in soil that is consistently moist and well-drained. It can be propagated by division or seed, but division is the easiest method. You should space them about 15-20 cm apart.

In addition to its beauty and ecological benefits, Water Avens also has some medicinal properties. The roots of the plant have been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, stomach problems, and skin irritations. The plant is also known to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

It is important to note that Water Avens should not be consumed in large quantities as it contains a toxic compound called "geosmin", which can cause a strong, earthy taste and smell in the plant. It is also worth noting that it is not recommended to use Water Avens as a medicine without consulting a healthcare professional first.

In terms of maintenance, once the flowers are done blooming, it is recommended to deadhead the flowers to promote a second blooming. Water Avens will self-seed and can become invasive if not controlled. It can be divided in early spring or fall, but it's not necessary to do so every year.

In terms of companions, Water Avens pairs well with other moisture-loving plants such as Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris), Great Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), and Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum). When planted in a naturalized setting or a rain garden, it can be a great addition to a wetland ecosystem.

In conclusion, Water Avens (Geum rivale) is not only a beautiful, easy-to-grow perennial but also has ecological and medicinal benefits. It's a great option for gardeners looking to add color and interest to a wet, shady area of their yard, but it's important to be aware that it can self-seed and become invasive if not controlled. When it comes to planting and maintaining Water Avens, it is best to plant it in soil that is consistently moist and well-drained and deadhead the flowers to promote a second blooming. It pairs well with other moisture-loving plants, making it a great addition to a naturalized setting or a rain garden.

30 Wonderful Facts About Water Avens

  1. Scientific Name: Water Avens is scientifically known as Geum rivale.
  2. Habitat: It is commonly found in damp meadows, wet woodlands, and along streambanks.
  3. Flowering Season: The plant typically flowers from late spring to mid-summer, with peak blooming in June.
  4. Appearance: Water Avens features distinctive nodding flowers with five reddish-purple petals.
  5. Height: The plant can grow up to 30 to 60 centimeters in height.
  6. Leaves: The basal leaves are pinnate, toothed, and have a slightly hairy texture.
  7. Root System: Water Avens has a fibrous root system.
  8. Fruit: The plant produces achenes, which are small, dry, one-seeded fruits.
  9. Pollination: Water Avens is primarily pollinated by bees, attracting them with its nectar.
  10. Geographical Distribution: It is native to Europe, Western Asia, and North America.
  11. Cultural Uses: Historically, Water Avens has been used in traditional medicine for various ailments.
  12. Folklore: In some cultures, Water Avens was believed to have mystical properties and was associated with fairies.
  13. Ecological Role: It plays a role in stabilizing streambanks and preventing erosion.
  14. Adaptability: Water Avens is tolerant of a range of soil types but prefers damp, acidic conditions.
  15. Conservation: In some regions, it is considered a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss.
  16. Hybridization: Water Avens can hybridize with other Geum species.
  17. Herbaceous Perennial: It is classified as a herbaceous perennial, meaning it dies back in the winter and regrows in the spring.
  18. Ethnobotanical Uses: Indigenous communities have used Water Avens for medicinal purposes, such as for treating diarrhea.
  19. Wildlife Habitat: The plant provides habitat and food for various insects and small animals.
  20. Cultivation: Water Avens can be cultivated in gardens, especially in moist or wet areas.
  21. Growth Rate: It has a moderate growth rate.
  22. Edible Parts: Some parts of Water Avens are edible, and the plant has been used in salads or as a flavoring agent.
  23. Cultivars: There are cultivated varieties of Water Avens with different flower colors.
  24. Traditional Dye: The roots of Water Avens have been used to produce yellow and red dyes.
  25. Seed Dispersal: Seeds are dispersed by wind or water.
  26. Soil Enrichment: The plant can contribute to soil enrichment through its decaying leaves.
  27. Historical Significance: Water Avens has been mentioned in historical texts and herbals dating back centuries.
  28. Attractive to Butterflies: The flowers attract butterflies, contributing to pollination.
  29. Fragrance: Some varieties may have a mild, pleasant fragrance.
  30. Naturalization: In some areas, Water Avens has naturalized and become a part of the local flora.


Water Avens filmed at Ravenstonedale and Smardale (Cumbria) on the 14th May 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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