English Mace (Achillea ageratum) is another old fashioned herb I grow and use. It shouldn’t be confused with the spice called mace, which is the outer husk of the nutmeg. This plant is a member of the yarrow family, and bears frothy white flowers.
It was a popular herb in the Middle Ages, when it was used as a sweetly scented strewing herb, scattered around the floor to freshen the air and repel lice and moths. It is rather lovely dried and added to potpourris or added to dried flower arrangements. It was used in Mediaeval times to make ‘sweete washing water’, steeped in boiling water and strained off to make a scented water for washing the hands, especially at the table, when diners ate with their hands, rather than a knife and fork.
The leaves can be used (very sparingly as they have a strong flavour) in soups and stews, stuffings, rice dishes, or fresh in potato salads.
English Mace and Potato Salad
Chop up cooked new potatoes and spring onions and mix together. Combine mayo with finely chopped English Mace and use it to dress the potatoes.
© Anna Franklin