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Lady's mantle is a perennial of the genus, Alchemilla, and the family Rosaceae. A perennial is a plant that lives at least two or three seasons rather than just one. The ruffled edges and the soft hairs of the leaves reminded the sixteenth century botanist, James Bock, of the then popular type of women's stylish cape called a mantle. He actually named the plant Our Lady's Mantle after the Virgin Mary, but over time the name became shortened to Lady's mantle.
Lady's mantle grows about 12 inches (30.48 cm) high on average, but may grow up to 3 feet (0.9144 m) tall. The flowers are yellow-green or chartreuse, and are clusters of small blossoms. They are very attractive in bouquets. The airy, clustered effect of the tiny Lady's mantle flowers is much like baby's breath -- a white clustered plant that is also used in many bouquets and flower arrangements. Lady's mantle, with its bright yellow green color makes a striking, textured background to brightly colored flowers.
The use of Lady's mantle for medical purposes dates back to the Middle Ages. Its genus name, Alchemilla, relates to the word alchemy, or chemists, as it was thought to have magical properties at one time. In German, the Lady's mantle is Frauenmantel, while in French, the plant is called Pied-de-lion, or lion's foot as the leaves of Lady's mantle plants are rounded.
The dried herb of the Lady's mantle plant is used for a medicinal tea. The plant is said to have healing properties such as helping to stop bleeding in wounds and menstrual disorders. Lady's mantle is also used as a treatment for diarrhea and some skin conditions.
Lady's mantle grows best in moist, well-drained soil and full sun. In warmer climates, the plant may grow well in partial shade. In the spring, it tends to do well when a layer of organic fertilizer is added to the top of the soil around the plant and any old leaves are removed with scissors. Fertilizers nourish the soil to promote plant growth and organic fertilizers are made from natural, unprocessed animal and plant sources without added chemicals. Since Lady's mantle is a perennial, if the flowers are left to go to seed at the end of the first season, new plants will grow next season.
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