Stem. - Nearly smooth, two or three feet high. Leaves. - Altternate, somewhat lance-shaped, toothed. Flowers. - Small, white or flesh-color, in pyramidal clusters. Calyx. - Five-cleft. Corolla. - Of five rounded petals. Stamens. - Numerous. Pistils. - Five to eight.
Plate XXVI. Meadow-Sweet. - S. salicifolia
The feathery spires of the meadow-sweet soar upward from the river banks and low meadows in late July. Unlike its pink sister, the steeple-bush, its leaves and stems are fairly smooth. The lack of fragrance in the flowers is disappointing, because of the hopes raised by the plant's common name. This is said by Dr. Prior to be a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon mead-wort, which signifies honey-wine herb, alluding to a fact which is mentioned in Hill's "Herbal," that "the flowers mixed with mead give it the flavor of the Greek wines."
Although the significance of many of the plant-names seems clear enough at first sight, such an example as this serves to show how really obscure it often is.