Silverweed

Potentilla_anserina,Silverweed
By Hedwig Storch (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Potentilla anserina-Silverweed

Family: Rosaceae

Other names:  Five Finger Grass, Synkefoyle, Witches Weed, Five Leaf, Tormentilla, Sunkfield, Bloodroot, Moor Grass, Goosegrass, Goose Tansy, Crampweed, Silverweed, Silver Weed, Sunkfield, Argentina anserine, Dactylophyllum anserinam, Fragaria anserina.

Habitat: Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Iran, the Himalayas, Manchuria, Japan. Ditches and moist calcareous soils. A common weed of cultivation.

hazardsmallPossible stomach irritation.

Contemporary medical herbalists believe that silverweed‘s main medicinal value lies in its astringency although it has been throughout the ages as a medicinal herb for other purposes. It is less astringent than the related P. erecta, but it has a gentler action within the gastro-intestinal tract. The whole plant is antispasmodic, mildly astringent, diuretic, foot care, haemostatic, odontalgic and tonic. A strong infusion is used to check the bleeding of piles and to treat diarrhoea, it is also used as a gargle for sore throats. Externally, it is used as a powder to treat ulcers and haemorrhoids whilst the whole bruised plant, placed over a painful area, will act as a local analgesic.  The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Potentilla anserina Silverweed for diarrhoea, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, premenstrual syndrome.

Potentilla_anserina,silverweed
By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Silverweed:

Potentilla anserina; Silverweed is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, self.The plant is self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation of Silverweed:

A very easily grown plant, succeeding in almost any soil, thriving in moist clays, though rather dwarfed in dry dusty soils. It grows best in a well-drained loam, preferring a position in full sun but tolerating shade. Prefers an alkaline soil but tolerates a slightly acid soil. Silverweed was formerly cultivated for its edible root. It is still possibly cultivated in parts of Scotland (1992). This plant spreads vigorously by its running roots and can be very invasive. It grows well in a meadow, or places where the grass is only cut occasionally. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Collection of Silverweed:

The roots are the most astringent part of the plant, they are harvested in late summer or autumn and dried for later use. The leaves are harvested in early summer and dried for later use.

Propagation of Silverweed:

Seed – sow early spring or autumn in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring. Division is also very easy at almost any time the plant is in growth. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Culinary uses of Silverweed:

Edible Parts: Leaves,  Root.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Root – raw or cooked. It can also be dried and ground into a powder then used in soups etc or mixed with cereals. A nice taste, crisp and nutty with a somewhat starchy flavour. The roots are rather thin, though perhaps their size could be improved in cultivation. Edible young shoots – raw. A tea is made from the leaves.

Medicinal uses of Silverweed:

Analgesic,  Antidiarrhoeal,  Antispasmodic,  Astringent,  Diuretic,  Foot care,  Haemostatic,  Odontalgic,  Tonic.

Part used: Whole Herb

The whole plant is antispasmodic, mildly astringent, diuretic, foot care, haemostatic, odontalgic and tonic. A strong infusion is used to check the bleeding of piles and to treat diarrhoea, it is also used as a gargle for sore throats. Externally, it is used as a powder to treat ulcers and haemorrhoids whilst the whole bruised plant, placed over a painful area, will act as a local analgesic.  The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Potentilla anserina Silverweed for diarrhoea, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, premenstrual syndrome.

Other uses of Silverweed:

Cleanser, Tannin.

A sprig of Silverweed placed in the shoe can help prevent blisters. An infusion of the leaves makes an excellent skin cleansing lotion, it is also used cosmetically as a soothing lotion for reddened skin and for the delicate skins of babies. All parts of the plant contain tannin, though the report does not give quantities.

my_silverweed_fairyEsoteric uses of Silverweed:

An all-purpose magickal herb. The five points of the leaf represent love, money, health, power, and wisdom. Stimulates memory, eloquence, and self confidence. Carry, burn, or wear to possess these traits. Used for business & house blessing. Use in spells to bring protection to a friend or loved one taking a journey. Burn as an incense during divination to bring dreams of one’s intended mate. Frequently associated with ritual work involving romance. Wash hands and forehead with an infusion of this herb nine times to wash away hexes and evil spells against you. Fill an empty egg shell and keep it in the home for powerful protection from evil forces. Wrap in red flannel and hang over the bed to ward off dark spirits of the night.

The Chemistry:

polysaccharide from Potentilla anserine L. are xylose, arabinose, glucose, rhamnose, mannose, fucose, galactose, glucuronic acid and galacturonic acid with contents of 3.945, 77.445, 17.568, 17.646, 3.942, 2.165, 65.268, 13.037 g/mg, and 33.484 g/mg, respectively, which are consistent with the results carried out by GC-MS.