- Potentilla anserina L.
- Potentilla tormentilla
- Potentilla reptans
- Rose family
Parts Usually Used
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
A hardy, creeping, low perennial plant 6-18 inches high; its blackish
rootstock sends out slender, rooting runners (somewhat like strawberries)
and also produces a rosette of basal, dark green, pinnate leaves consisting
of 13-21 oblong, serrate leaflets that are dark green on top and covered
with silvery hairs beneath. In the leaves, large leaflets alternate
with small leaflets. The bright-yellow flowers grow singly on long
peduncles, stalks growing from the leaf axils; blooms from May to
September. The root has a bitter, styptic taste.
Other varieties: Tall cinquefoil (P. arguta), (P. reptans),
and dwarf cinquefoil (P. canadensis).
Found in dry fields, wet meadows and banks, and pastures and also
in damp marshy places all over North American and Europe. Found across
Canada to the arctic circle, South in northern areas of the United
States and the Rockies to New Mexico.
Antispasmodic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, tonic
Legends, Myths and Stories
Cinquefoil was used as a laxative by Paiutes; cook the whole plant
which looks silvery and silky. Also makes a red dye.
In ancient China, this herb was used in magic for casting spells
and as a love-divining herb.
The tea (made with water or milk) is an excellent remedy for diarrhea
and is even said to be good for dysentery.
As an antispasmodic, it can relieve abdominal cramps and painful
periods; but it is generally mixed with balm leaves and German
chamomile flowers to make a tea for that purpose. The tea is also
useful as an external astringent for skin problems, jaundice,
palsy, shingles, itch, sciatica,
arthritis, quinsey, epilepsy,
gums, mouthwash, fever, and
throat sores, hoarseness,
cough, ague, colds, flu,
canker sores. When added
to bath water, it will stop bleeding from piles,
sores, and wounds.
The root was used for red dye.
Formulas or Dosages
Use the entire plant except the roots, dried in the shade.
Decoction: boil 2 tsp. herb in 1 cup of water or milk.
Mixed tea: mix equal parts of silverweed, balm leaves and
German chamomile flowers. Steep 1 tsp. of the mixture in 1/2 cup water.
Sweeten with honey. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups a day, a mouthful at a time.
Infusion: use 1 tsp. of the dried herb in 1 cup of boiling
water. Cover with a saucer and steep for 30 minutes; strain.
Iron, magnesium, calcium