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Cinquefoil

  • Potentilla anserina L.
  • Potentilla tormentilla
  • Potentilla reptans
  • Rosaceae
  • Rose family



Common Names

herbsCrampweed
herbsFan-pai-ts'ao
herbsFive fingered grass
herbsFive-leaf grass
herbsFive-fingers
herbsGoosegrass
herbsGoose tansy
herbsMoor grass
herbsPotentilla
herbsRough-fruited
herbsSilverweed
herbsSilver cinquefoil


Parts Usually Used

The herb


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).


Where Found

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.


Medicinal Properties

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.


Uses

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, malaria, cystitis, palsy, shingles, itch, sciatica, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, quinsey, epilepsy, toothache, bleeding gums, mouthwash, fever, and throat sores, hoarseness, cough, ague, colds, flu, canker sores. When added to bath water, it will stop bleeding from piles, boils, ulcers, 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.


Nutrient Content

Iron, magnesium, calcium

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