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  • Tormentilla erecta L.
  • Potentilla tormentilla
  • Rosaceae
  • Rose family

Common Names

herbsCinquefoil (Potentilla anserina)
herbsFive finger grass
herbsFive leaves grass
herbsShepherd's knot
herbsSilvery cinquefoil
herbsUpright septfoil

Parts Usually Used


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Tormentil is a perennial European plant; the irregular, knobby rootstock is dark brown on the outside, white inside, turning red on exposure to air. The plant has several fine-haired, branched stems from 4-16 inches tall. The serrate, fine-haired leaves are palmately 3 to 5 parted; the segments on the stem leaves are oblanceolate, while those on the basal leaves are rounded and wilt soon after developing. The yellow, 4-petaled flowers bloom on long stalks from May to August.

Where Found

Grows in damp meadows, pastures, hills and marshes.

Medicinal Properties

Antiphlogistic, antiseptic, astringent, hemostatic

Legends, Myths and Stories

Industrially, tormentil is used to process leather; in the textile industry for dying in the color red.


The decoction and tincture are used for diarrhea, enteritis, and inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and bleeding gums, canker sores. The tincture is good for sealing hemorrhages, for leucorrhea, and for fevers. Diluted it makes a good mouthwash and gargle for sore throat. The root is used for chronic and infectious catarrhal enteritis, quinsey, epilepsy, toothache, dysentery, and jaundice. Especially helps intestinal problems where diarrhea and constipation alternate. Externally, used to help heal wounds, sores, ulcers, bruises and relieves pain.

Culpeper claims that this herb expels any venom or poison, or the plague, other contagious diseases, as pox, measles; even cures the "French pox" he notes one writer, Andreas Valesius, to declare.

Formulas or Dosages

Use the fresh or recently dried rootstock.

Infusion or Decoction: use 1 tbsp. root to 1 cup water. For infusion, steep 30 or more minutes; strain. Take lukewarm in the course of a day in mouthful doses.

Tincture: take 20 to 30 drops, 2 or 3 times per day.

Powder: use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp., 3 times per day or as directed by a doctor.

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