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Herb of the week: Cinquefoil.

Photo: Potentilla anserina 10. Photo: Potentilla argentea 3. A short profile:

Latin: Potentilla species (also shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa) and marsh cinquefoil (Comarum palustre); I think they're back in the Potentillas again.).
Family: Rosaceae, rose family.
Parts used: Leaf or flowering tops.
Taste: Astringent.
4 humors: Dry.


  • It's a great herb for courage.
  • Just yet another rose family astringent: good for various skin and mucous membrane excesses like diarrhea, sunburn, gum problems and the like.

Food uses:

  • Use the flowers in your salads. Pretty!

Photo: Potentilla erecta 4. Notes:

  • Tormentil is a cinquefoil, too. I don't bother digging up tormentil roots: alder cones (Alnus species) work pretty much the same way (as anti-inflammatory and strongly astringent herbs for severe gut problems), and you don't have to kill a plant for each little piece of root in that jar. I do pick and use tormentil tops for courage, though.
  • You can use agrimony the same way as the cinquefoils. We don't have agrimony, so I use just pretty much any potentilla I can lay my hands on. It's possible to grow agrimony here, but it does tend to flop over; the flowers aren't all that spectacular, and there's potentillas everywhere. I haven't bothered growing agrimony.
  • Photo: Potentilla fruticosa 5. (I did pull up almost all (but not all) of the bush cinquefoils in my front yard. They're ugly as anything until about mid-summer, they're really only pretty in fall when they flower, and I pick flowering tops off them, for that potentilla action.)


  • That "gives you courage" sounds uninteresting, until you see it in action. I've talked about it in my lectures and given it to clients for years now, for courage, for the strength to stand up to stronger wills and egos.
    • So your in-law thinks you should change your curtains twice a year, and wash them before larger holidays, too? Take some potentilla for a few weeks, then get the in-law to change your curtains for you ... they think that is important.
    • Or your boss is a total twat who takes all your credit and hands you all his blame, in addition to letting you know at every turn just how miserable an entity you are? Take some potentilla for a few weeks, then go to the top boss of your company and have your boss sidelined, fired or retired, post-haste.
    • Or you're stuck in a marriage that really doesn't work, out of pity or a sense of duty or something such, and it's driving you nuts and destroying your health? Take some potentilla and see how fast you can get those divorce papers filed. (I'm all for marriage, but not if it keeps people trapped in an utterly frustrating and unhappy relationship.)
    • I've seen these and more, in clients and students who've felt that yep, potentilla sounds like a good idea.
      You eat a leaf (the size of a €, $ or £ coin) a day and wait for your stressors and stresses to disappear. It's magic!
  • (Of course it's useful for mild diarrhea and similar rose-family astringent things, too, but there are so MANY mild astringents ... there are rather few herbs which give you elbows.)

Comments on Facebook:

  • From Onna C.C.:
    does agrimony work for courage in the same way as the cinquefoil? or the alder cones thanx
    17 January at 18:51
  • From Henriette's herbal:
    Agrimony works the same way for courage. Alder cones work like tormentil root for gut problems.
    17 January at 21:02
  • From Juliette M.:
    I recently put this on a nasty burn on my daughter's chest. Pain was gone within seconds. truly a wonderful herb. The one I have around here is potentilla reptans which I have tinctured but will now try eating a leaf a day when I need courage.
    17 January at 18:53
  • From Henriette's herbal:
    Juliette: wow. Cool!
    17 January at 21:02
  • From Juliette Martin:
    Yes, it was great to have remembered the holding breath that comes with agrimony and cinquefoil and that it was for burns (thanks Matthew Wood!)
    17 January at 22:28

Comments on the herblist:

  • From Kristin H.
    Date: 2012 01 26 - 01:02:32 +0200

    I know I am late on adding anything to this beautiful little plant but it is one I have journeyed to with a group of other people and felt it needed to be acknowledged by someone else whom adores it.

    I have used only the magic of the plant so far. I want to make a cream out of the flowers because I know that it would be a magnificent cream but haven't figured out the best way to create it yet.

    I keep the plant leaf in my wallet with money.I was told the leaf needs to be facing me to bring in the magic of having enough. I guess in years long past the plant was painted on shields to protect its holder and put on doors facing toward the inside of the house to keep evil out. if the leaf faces towards you it keeps whatever it is you want coming towards you.

    face it away and it keeps what you don't want from getting close... (including people and their negative energies) I have done this too.

    I have found it to be a wonderful plant and will be spending more time with it this summer as it flowers in my front yard.

Please add your own experiences etc. in the comments!

Cinquefoil is in my book, Practical Herbs; the entry there is a tad different, though, with thorough recipes and so on.

Also see my blog: Herbs for Happiness.