DESCRIPTION: Height up to 30cm. A heterotrophic plant that is a fleshy stem coverered in thick fleshy dirty white to yellow scale-like leaves that secrete water, which escapes and softens the ground around the plant. The dull pinkish-purple two lipped flowers are in pairs at the end of short stalks. DISTRIBUTION: Widespread and fairly common though absent from the far north. HABITAT: Parasitic on Hazel and Elm and many other woody plants usually in shady places. FLOWERING TIME: April to May. FURTHER INFO: The generic name Lathraea comes from the Greek word lathraios, meaning secret, referring to the fact that Toothwort spends much of its life cycle hidden underground. Fresh edible roots are hot and peppery and have a crisp texture. It can be eaten in a salad or cooked as a pot herb. The roots have been used fresh or dried for toothache or ground and applied to areas of pain. It has also been made into a medicinal tea for treatment of colds and congestion and you can also gargle to treat a sore throat. Toothwort is said to have a sedative effect.
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