by Brenda Hyde of OldFashionedLiving.com
I grow mostly culinary herbs because of their usefulness in the garden and the kitchen, but the longer I grow herbs the more I venture towards plants that are useful in different ways. Many herbs are suited more for crafts, herbal cosmetics and other uses. Lady's Mantle is one of those interesting and historical herbs!
Alchemilla has lime green leaves and dainty star shaped flowers, and has been in gardens since before the 16th century and I'm sure in the wild much before then. The entire plant is covered in very fine hairs that cause dew or soft rain to gather in it's leaves. This liquid was known as "celestial water" and used in alchemy. These tiny jeweled drops inspired poetry and magic over the years.
The herb became known as Our Lady's Mantle because the scalloped shape of the leaves, were thought to resemble the mantle (cloak) of the Virgin Mary. Later, politics intervened, and the "Our" was taken from the name.
Lady's Mantle can be planted from seeds or by purchasing plants. The seed will germinate in the garden, but will take up to 2 years to flower. The plants can be divided in the spring or fall and are hardy in Zones 4-8 and possibly Zone 3. It will grow from 6 inches for the alpine variety to about 12-18 inches on the others. Space about 12 inches between plants. Lady's Mantle needs a fertile soil and some moisture-more than the standard herbs. It can be in full sun in northern climates, but can tolerate some shade and in the warm climates prefers it.
Lady's Mantle can be invasive if left to seed. But the flowers can be dried and used in crafting, so always make sure you harvest those before they form seed. The leaves can be used in teas and infusions for cosmetic purposes. I hesitate to recommend it for medicinal and internal uses because there is a strict warning for pregnant and nursing women. However, cosmetically it's soothing to the skin and can be used as follows:
Lady's Mantle Hand Moisturizer
2 Tbsp. finely ground oatmeal
1Tbsp. lady's mantle infusion* see note
1 tsp. avocado oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. glycerin
Mix all to form a smooth paste. Apply to your hands at bedtime. Leave on for about a 1/2 hour, wash off and moisturize as usual with lotion. Note- an infusion is simply a very strong tea made with boiling water-allow it to "brew" for 15-20 minutes.
Herbal Bath Vinegar
Mix lavender, lady's mantle leaves, rose petals with cider vinegar and allow to sit for 2-4 weeks. You can use this as a facial tonic or a bath additive.
Herbal Facial Steam
Add a couple handfuls of lady's mantle, mixed with burnet, violets, borage or lavender to several cups of boiling water and use it as a facial steam. Bring it to a boil and stir with a plastic or wooden spoon, then tent your head with a towel at least 18 inches above the pan or bowl. Gently dry your face with a soft towel afterwards and use a nice moisturizer.
About the AuthorBrenda Hyde is a freelance writer, wife and mom to three living in the Midwest. She is also editor of OldFashionedLiving.com, where you will find articles on gardening, herbs, crafts and other old fashioned topics.