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Asperula cynanchica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rubiaceae (Bedstraw)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Grassland, riverbanks, sand dunes, seaside, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Pink, 4 petals
The funnel-shaped flowers are white with pale pink veins. They have pointed petals which curve backwards at the tips. Flowers appear inside dense terminal clusters. Individual flowers measure 3 to 4mm across. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is a pair of rough textured nutlets, up to 2mm in size.
A low growing, mat-forming perennial with linear, lance-shaped leaves, in whorls of 4. The leaves are often unequal in size. The stems are square in cross-section and hairless.
Squinancywort has a vanilla-scented fragrance.
Other Names:
Quinancywort, Quinsywort, Squincywort.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Asperula cynanchica is a species of flowering plant in the Rubiaceae family. It is also known as Squinancywort, and it is native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It is a perennial herb that typically grows to be about 20-40 cm tall. It has small, white or pink flowers that appear in the spring and early summer. The leaves are narrow and linear. It prefers to grow in moist, shady places and is often found in woodlands and along streambanks. It is considered a medicinal plant and has been used to treat a variety of ailments such as sore throat, colds and respiratory problems.


Squinancywort, also known as Asperula cynanchica, is a delicate wildflower that is native to the grasslands of Europe and western Asia. This plant is a member of the Rubiaceae family, which includes coffee and quinine, and has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

Description and Habitat

Squinancywort is a small perennial plant that typically grows to be between 5 and 30 centimeters tall. It has thin, delicate stems that are covered in small, pointed leaves. The plant produces clusters of small, fragrant white or pale pink flowers that bloom from May to August. The flowers are arranged in a corymb, which is a flat-topped cluster of flowers in which the outermost flowers open first.

This plant is most commonly found in dry, open grasslands and meadows, and is often found growing alongside other wildflowers such as harebells, oxeye daisies, and wild thyme. It is native to much of Europe, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain, as well as parts of western Asia.

Traditional Uses

Squinancywort has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was commonly used to treat sore throats, and the plant's common name, squinancywort, is derived from the Latin word for "quinsy," which is an old term for tonsillitis. The plant was also used to treat other respiratory ailments, such as coughs and bronchitis.

In addition to its use in treating respiratory issues, squinancywort was also used as a diuretic and a mild sedative. The leaves and flowers of the plant were typically harvested in the summer months, and were then dried and used to make teas and tinctures.

Modern Uses

While squinancywort is not as commonly used in modern medicine as it once was, it is still valued for its medicinal properties. The plant is still used as a natural remedy for sore throats, and is often included in herbal throat lozenges and teas.

In addition to its traditional uses, squinancywort has also been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some studies have even suggested that the plant may have anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed to fully understand its potential in this area.

Growing Squinancywort

Squinancywort is a relatively easy plant to grow, and can be a great addition to a wildflower garden or meadow. The plant prefers well-drained soil, and does best in full sun or light shade. It can be propagated by seed or by dividing the root ball, and can be sown directly into the ground in the fall or early spring.

Squinancywort is a delicate wildflower with a rich history of use in traditional medicine. While it is not as widely used as it once was, the plant still has value as a natural remedy for sore throats and other respiratory ailments, and may have other potential health benefits as well. For those interested in adding this lovely plant to their gardens, it is relatively easy to grow and can be a great addition to a wildflower meadow or garden.

More Information

Squinancywort has also been used in traditional folklore as a love charm. In some parts of Europe, young people would gather squinancywort on Midsummer's Eve and weave it into garlands. The garlands were then hung over doorways and windows, and it was believed that they would bring love and happiness to the household.

The plant has also been used in the culinary world, particularly in Scandinavian and Eastern European cuisine. The leaves and flowers have a sweet fragrance and a slightly bitter taste, and can be used to flavor tea, liqueurs, and desserts. The leaves can also be used as a substitute for vanilla or tonka bean in recipes.

Despite its historical and cultural significance, squinancywort is a relatively uncommon plant, and is listed as a threatened species in many parts of its native range. Habitat loss and overgrazing are the main threats to the plant's survival, and conservation efforts are being made to protect its remaining populations.

In addition to its ecological importance, squinancywort is also an important food source for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The plant's fragrant flowers attract a wide range of pollinators, and its nectar is an important source of energy for these insects.

Squinancywort is a fascinating and valuable plant with a rich history and a range of potential uses. Whether you are interested in its traditional medicinal properties, its culinary uses, or its ecological importance, there are many reasons to appreciate this lovely wildflower.

In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Squinancywort is also a popular plant among gardeners who appreciate its delicate beauty and ease of cultivation. The plant is a great addition to rock gardens, wildflower meadows, and cottage gardens, and its fragrant flowers make it a favorite of bees and other pollinators.

Squinancywort is a hardy and adaptable plant that can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. It is drought-tolerant and can tolerate a range of soil types, although it does prefer well-drained soil. The plant can also tolerate light shade, although it will produce more flowers in full sun.

When planting squinancywort, it is important to give the plants enough space to spread out. The plant can grow quite vigorously, and may need to be divided every few years to prevent overcrowding. Deadheading the flowers can also help to promote a longer blooming period and prevent self-seeding.

In summary, Squinancywort is a versatile and valuable plant that has a rich history of use in traditional medicine, as well as a range of other potential uses. Whether you are interested in its culinary uses, its ecological importance, or its value as a garden plant, there are many reasons to appreciate this lovely wildflower. By conserving and cultivating squinancywort, we can help to ensure that this important plant remains a part of our natural and cultural heritage for years to come.


Squinancywort filmed at Scout Scar, Cumbria on the 16th July 2022.


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