Bearwort, with fine, almost fern-like leaves, is a luxuriant natural perennial in the mountainous areas of Europe, where it grows in alpine meadows. In Britain it grows best in the sheep-grazed Scottish Highlands.
In Finland, the species is rarely found in perennial plantings, despite having a lot to offer. The leaves are beautiful, dark green and as fine as hair. The inflorescences are typical of the umbellifers: opening about midway through summer they are creamy white in flat heads about 5-7cms across. Bearwort is long-lived, improving with each year, as it has done on the Terassi (Terrace) at Mustila.
Bearwort needs little attention, requiring neither dividing nor re-planting. The strong main root, forking with age, goes deep and means the plant can survive even in difficult conditions. In better soil, development into a dense clump is faster. Growing the plant from seed is a slow process, which may be why it is seldom seen for sale at nurseries. It takes several years to gather the large stores of energy needed to produce the dense spring foliage.Bearwort is an old herbal medicine. The whole plant is extremely aromatic. Both leaves and roots have also been used in soups and stews. Milk from cows which have grazed on it is strongly flavoured.