Pellitory of the Wall

(adapted from The Herbalist's BibleThe Herbalist's Bible, p165)

Pellitory of the wall (Parietaria judaica) is a red-stemmed perennial with tiny white flowers that grows, as you’d expect from the name, mainly on walls, to about a foot high. We have lots of it growing on the local abbey ruins, and we found a particularly striking patch in the walls of Llanthony Priory, Monmouthshire one June.

In John Parkinson’s day pellitory was used internally for coughs and uterine pain and externally for skin problems and burns. His contemporary Nicholas Culpeper had such faith in a syrup of pellitory juice and honey that he promised free treatment to anyone who took a teaspoon daily or even just once a week and still got dropsy, the old name for oedema or fluid retention.

We prefer the tea but pellitory syrup would be fine in relieving urinary tract problems. It's also worth remembering the former uses of this overlooked herb. In Europe it has a reputation as an antiviral, and is being researched for treating FIV, the feline form of HIV.

The dried herbe Paritary [pellitory] made up with hony into an Electuary, or the juice of the herbe, or the decoction thereof made up with Sugar or Hony, is a singular remedy for any old continuall or dry cough, the shortnesse of breathe and wheezing in the throate.
– John Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum (1640)

Its action upon the urinary calculus is perhaps more marked than any other simple agent at present employed.
– Maude Grieve, A Modern Herbal (1931)

Pellitory tea

Harvest pellitory on the summer while it is flowering, snapping off the stem about halfway up, leaving the rest to grow back.

Pour a cup of boiling water onto about 2 teaspoons of the chopped fresh herb (1 teaspoon if you are using dried) and leave to infuse for some 10 minutes. As it is somewhat astringent, add sugar of honey to taste.

Drink a cupful three times a day for treating cystitis, bladder irritation, urinary gravel or kidney stones, painful urination and problems linked to prostate enlargement.