Umbilicus rupestris

Navelwort – Nombril de Vénus






umbilicus rupestris3





Umbilicus rupestris  is a native of the Mediterranean region where it grows all year round.   It is a herb with a long history.   Navelwort is described in Nicholas Culpeper’s Complete Herbal (1616-1654).   He called it Kidneywort, Wall Pennyroyal or Wall Pennywort.  He used astrology to determine the medicinal properties of a plant.  Today we have other means at our disposal.  The following is an extract from Culpeper’s Complete Herbal:   
“Government and virtues.  Venus challengeth the herb under Libra.  The juice or the distilled water being drank, is very effectual for all inflammations, and unnatural heats, to cool a fainting hot stomach, a hot liver or the bowels;  the herb, juice, or distilled water whereof, outwardly applied, healeth pimples.”
Nowadays, Navelwort has lost its use, but if during a walk you get scratched and there happens to be a Navelwort growing nearby, the juice squeezed out of the leaves relieves the pain and disinfects at the same time. 
It is a succulent herb belonging to the Stonecrop family (Crassulaceae).  The basal leaves are orbicular with a central ‘navel’ and a long stalk, hence the name Umbilicus.  The margins of the leaves are somewhat scalloped.  It tends to grow on stonewalls, preferably in a shady, moist spot, hence the rupestris, which means growing near rocks.  The flowers whitish-green are tubular, born in long tapered racemes that are more than half the length of the stems.  After flowering, green fruits appear.
The fresh, juicy, crunchy leaves make a lovely addition to salads.
Bibliography:  Wikipedia – Umbilicus rupestris; Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician; Plantes de Mediterranee – Wolfgang Lippert/Dieter Podlech

About seasonalforaging

We are a group of friends who enjoy walking in the countryside in Provence searching for plants and herbs to identify and use.
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