Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora) is an old fashioned cottage herb that works well in today’s garden. It’s a perennial groundcover that mounds to about 8-12 inches in ideal conditions. The finely toothed and ribbed leaves are 2-4 inches across and creased in the form of a lady’s cloak or mantle from medieval times. The plant produces yellow-green sprays of flowers in spring to early summer. This is the lady’s mantle you’ll find in herb shops.
The leaves of lady’s mantle are slightly cupped and fuzzy so they easily hold morning dew. Young ladies would collect the dew and use it to wash their faces for a radiant complexion. Tradition says these drops represent the pure tears of Mary, the mother of Jesus. All parts of the plant have been used in medicine. An infusion of the leaves from this herb has been used in folk medicine to combat women’s disorders and to treat mild diarrhea. The juice is astringent and styptic, making it useful in wound care and skin preparations.
Lady’s mantle needs regular moisture and protection from the hot. Plant it where it will get afternoon shade. You can try growing it under trees, at the base of ornamental shrubs, or in a shaded container garden.
In cooler climates, lady’s mantle is fairly trouble-free to grow. But in the more humid areas of the Gulf Coast it can be a challenge to grow. Water remaining on the leaves and crown can promote the growth of fungus or an infestation of red spider mites. Combat these pests with anti-fungal powder or insecticidal soap. Prevent further outbreaks by transplanting lady’s mantle to a spot in your garden where it can get good air circulation.