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HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Thalictrum flavum

Thalictrum flavum

The common meadow-rue, poor man’s rhubarb or yellow meadow-rue (Thalictrum flavum L. 1753) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Ranunculaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subarign Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Subclass Magnoliidae,
Ranunculales Order,
Ranunculaceae family,
Subfamily Thalictroideae,
Thalictreae tribe,
Genus Thalictrum,
T. flavum species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Thalictrum altissimum E.Thomas;
– Thalictrum altissimum E.Thomas ex De Massas;
– Thalictrum angustatum Weinm.;
– Thalictrum angustatum Weinm. ex Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum angustifolium var. flavum (L.) Fiori;
– Thalictrum angustifolium var. morisonii (C.C.Gmel.) Steud.;
– Thalictrum angustifolium var. variifolium Rchb.;
– Thalictrum anonymum Wallr.;
– Thalictrum anonymum Wallr. ex Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum belgicum Jord.;
– Thalictrum capitatum Jord.;
– Thalictrum commutatum C.A.Mey.;
– Thalictrum commutatum C.A.Mey. ex Ledeb.;
– Thalictrum controversum K.F.Schimp. & Spenn.;
– Thalictrum flaccidum Schleich.;
– Thalictrum flaccidum Schleich. ex Hegetschw.;
– Thalictrum flavum f. capitatum (Jord.) Rouy & Foucaud, 1893;
– Thalictrum flavum f. prorepens (Jord.) Rouy & Foucaud, 1893;
– Thalictrum flavum f. riparium (Jord. ex Boreau) Rouy & Foucaud, 1893;
– Thalictrum flavum f. udum (Jord.) Rouy & Foucaud, 1893;
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. flavum L., 1753;
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. linnaeanum Rouy & Foucaud;
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. riparium (Jord. ex Boreau) Bonnier;
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. rufinerve (Lej. & Courtois) Jáv.;
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. rufinerve (Lej. & Courtois) Rouy & Foucaud;
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. sphaerocarpum (Lej. & Courtois) Rouy & Foucaud;
– Thalictrum flavum var. belgicum (Jord.) Nyman;
– Thalictrum flavum var. campestre Laest.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. capitatum (Jord.) Nyman;
– Thalictrum flavum var. euskarum Elías & Pau;
– Thalictrum flavum var. euskarum Elías & Pau ex P.Monts.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. flaccidum (Schleich. ex Hegetschw.) Ducommun;
– Thalictrum flavum var. genuinum Regel
– Thalictrum flavum var. heterophyllum (Lej.) P.Fourn., 1936;
– Thalictrum flavum var. heterophyllum Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. latifolium Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. latifolium Willk.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. latisectum Neilr.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. laxum Sommier;
– Thalictrum flavum var. medium Laest.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. morisonii (C.C.Gmel.) Willk.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. nigricans Écorchard;
– Thalictrum flavum var. pauperculum Gren. & Godr.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. pauperculum Herm.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. pauperculum Herm. ex DC.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. pinguidum Laest.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. pratense Ruthe;
– Thalictrum flavum var. pratense Schltdl.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. prorepens (Jord.) Nyman;
– Thalictrum flavum var. ramosum Laest.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. riparium (Jord. ex Boreau) Syme;
– Thalictrum flavum var. rufinerve (Lej. & Courtois) Massas;
– Thalictrum flavum var. rufinerve (Lej. & Courtois) Osvač., 1982;
– Thalictrum flavum var. simpliciforme Vollm.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. sphaerocarpum (Lej. & Courtois) Syme;
– Thalictrum flavum var. stipellatum Massas;
– Thalictrum flavum var. subrotundifolium Laest.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. sylvestre Ruthe;
– Thalictrum flavum var. sylvestre Schltdl.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. typicum Neuman;
– Thalictrum flavum var. udum (Jord.) Nyman;
– Thalictrum flavum var. variifolium (Rchb.) Neilr.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. variifolium Duftschmid;
– Thalictrum flavum var. virginum Bolle;
– Thalictrum flavum var. vulgare Ehrh.;
– Thalictrum flavum var. wallrothii Boenn.;
– Thalictrum friesii Rupr.;
– Thalictrum glaucovirens Andrz.;
– Thalictrum glaucovirens Andrz. ex Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum glomerulosum Fr.;
– Thalictrum gracile Schur;
– Thalictrum gracile Schur ex Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum heterophyllum Lej.;
– Thalictrum hybridum Jord.;
– Thalictrum hybridum Jord. ex Nyman;
– Thalictrum kemense var. gracile Fr.;
– Thalictrum latifolium Tausch;
– Thalictrum latifolium Tausch ex Steud.;
– Thalictrum linnaeanum Rouy & Foucaud;
– Thalictrum lucidum var. princeps (Dumort. ex Van Haes.) Borbás;
– Thalictrum morisonii C.C.Gmel.;
– Thalictrum morisonii var. morisonii C.C.Gmel., 1826;
– Thalictrum nigricans Jacq.;
– Thalictrum nigricans var. morisonii (C.C.Gmel.) Gillet & Magne;
– Thalictrum nutans Schleich.;
– Thalictrum nutans Schleich. ex Mert. & W.D.J.Koch;
– Thalictrum obtusatum Schrad.;
– Thalictrum obtusatum Schrad. ex Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum pauperculatum Herm.;
– Thalictrum pauperculatum Herm. ex DC.;
– Thalictrum porrectum Jord.;
– Thalictrum porrectum Jord. ex Nyman;
– Thalictrum princeps Dumort.;
– Thalictrum prorepens Jord.;
– Thalictrum pseudoflavum Schur;
– Thalictrum pseudoflavum Schur ex Lecoy.;
– Thalictrum purpurascens var. rugosum (Aiton) Farw.;
– Thalictrum riparium Jord.;
– Thalictrum riparium Jord. ex Boreau;
– Thalictrum rufinerve Lej. & Courtois;
– Thalictrum rugosum Aiton;
– Thalictrum sphaerocarpum Lej. & Courtois;
– Thalictrum udum Jord.;
– Thalictrum vaginatum Desf.;
– Thalictrum varium;
– Thalictrum varium var. flavum (L.) Döll;
– Thalictrum wallrothianum Lecoy..
Within this species, the following subspecies and varieties are also recognized:
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. costae (Timb.-Lagr. ex Debeaux) Rouy & Foucaud in Rouy (1893);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. exaltatum (Gaudin) Bonnier & Layens (1894);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. glaucum (Desf.) Batt. (1888);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. heterophyllum (Lej.) Rouy & Foucaud in Rouy (1893);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. linnaeanum Rouy & Foucaud in Rouy (1893);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. mediterraneum (Jordan) Nyman (1878);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. nigricans (Jacq.) Bonnier (1912);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. riparium (Jordan) Bonnier (1912);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. rufinerve (Lej. & Court.) Rouy & Foucaud in Rouy (1893);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. simplex (L.) O.Bolòs & Vigo (1984);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. sphaerocarpum (Lej. & Courtois) Rouy & Foucaud in Rouy (1893);
– Thalictrum flavum subsp. spurium (Jordan) Nyman (1878);
– Thalictrum flavum var.euskarum Elías & Pau ex P.Monts. (1984);
– Thalictrum flavum var. rufinerve (Lej. & Court.) V.Osvačilová (1982).

Etymology –
The term Thalictrum comes from the Greek θάλικτρον thálictron name of the pigamus mentioned by Dioscorides, probably alluding (but this is controversial) to their early flowering (“Thalictrumallein” = to green, while “ictar” = soon) or to the green-gay color of the tender sprouts.
The specific epithet flavum comes from the Latin and means yellow, blond, in reference to the color of the flowers.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The common meadow-rue is a plant with Eurasian distribution and very widespread, native to the temperate regions of Asia, North Africa and Europe.
This plant is found in: North Africa within Algeria. In Europe it is found in (Eastern Europe) Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, (Central Europe), Austria; Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, (Northern Europe) Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, (South Eastern Europe) Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Macedonia del North, Romania, Serbia, (southwestern Europe) France and Spain. In Asia it is found in the Caucasus, (within Azerbaijan and Georgia), in the Russian Federation (in the Amur and Primorye), in China, (Xinjiang) in Kazakhstan, Siberia and Turkey.
In Italy it is common in almost all regions (absent in the islands). In the Alps it is less frequent in the innermost areas (apart from the province of Novara), while it is absent in Trentino-Alto Adige and Bellunese. In the Alps across the border it is found in France (departments of Isère, Savoy and Haute-Savoie) and in Switzerland (canton of Valais). On the European reliefs it is also found in the Jura Massif and in the Massif Central.
Its typical habitat is that of humid stations (river banks, ponds, ditches, swamps, wet woods or peaty meadows); but also in megaforbieti and fern populations. The preferred substrate is calcareous but also calcareous / siliceous with basic-neutral pH, medium nutritional values ​​of the soil which must be moist, where it grows up to or 900 m a.s.l.

Description –
The common meadow-rue is a perennial herbaceous plant, stoloniferous and hairless, 50 – 120 cm tall.
The stem is erect, opaque, grooved and with reddish streaks.
The basal leaves are almost glabrous, bi-squared pinnatosette; the upper ones 2-4 times longer than wide, provided with a petiole with an auricular sheath.
The inflorescence is corymbose, forming panicles.
The flowers are small, of a greenish yellow color, gathered in loose bundles and with 1 mm long bracts, 5 deciduous petaloid sepals; long and thin stamens carrying 1,4 – 1,7 mm long anthers ending with tipless tips; heart-shaped stigmas of 0.6 – 1 mm.
The fruit is a sessile or pedicellated monosperm angular achene.

Cultivation –
The common meadow-rue is a perennial plant that grows naturally in humid areas, such as river banks, ponds, ditches, swamps, wet woods or peaty meadows, so for its cultivation it is preferable to choose an environment with similar characteristics.
The plant can be grown in partial shade (at least 4 or 5 hours of direct sun) or better in full sun, as long as the soil is drained, rich, fertile and that it maintains adequate humidity.
Due to their elegant posture, all plants of this genus can be used for ornamentation in rock gardens and even better if they are alpine, the important thing is to maintain a substrate rich in organic substances and, as mentioned, a good degree of humidity in the soil.
Propagation occurs by seed.

Customs and Traditions –
The common meadow-rue, in popular medicine, is called “rhubarb of the fields” or “rhubarb of the peasants” perhaps because the root of this plant was used as a laxative and diuretic; the leaves were used to prepare purgative infusions. In ancient times, in fact, according to popular medicine, these plants were attributed with different medicinal properties. The roots were used as a purgative and diuretic. Not anymore as they are considered toxic and harmful to human health. In fact, these plants contain in the roots a toxic yellow dye, once used to color the wool, the “macrocarpina”. Even grazing cattle avoid eating the leaves of this plant as it is poisonous for them.

Preparation Method –
Thalictrum flavum is a plant, used above all in the past, for its purgative properties.
The roots were used for this purpose, however the toxicity of these parts has practically abandoned the use of this plant.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Photo source:

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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