Botanical Name:Potentilla simplex
Common names:potentilla, five-fingers, tormentil, and barren strawberry.
Other Names: Five Fingers, Five-Finger Blossom, Five-finger grass, Sunkfield, Synkefoyle, Common Cinquefoil, Creeping Cinquefoil, Oldfield Cinquefoil
Parts used: The whole plant flowering, leaves.
Native to Eastern and Central N. America from Nova Scotia to North Carolina, Alabama, Minnesota and Missouri. Found growing in dry open woods, prairie hillsides, roadsides, old fields and waste places.
Cinquefoil is a genus of about 500 species of annual, biennial and perennial herbs.Many of the species have leaves divided into five leaflets arranged palmately (like the fingers of a hand), whence the name cinquefoil (French, cinque feuilles, “five leaves”), though some species (e.g. P. sterilis) have just three leaflets, and others (e.g. P. anserina) up to 15 or more leaflets arranged pinnately. The leaves of some cinquefoils are eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.
The roots are long, slender rhizomes branched at the top from several crowns, from which arise the long-stalked leaves and solitary, yellow flowers that close up at night, and threadlike, creeping stems. The stem-runners root at intervals and often attain a length of 5 feet or more, spreading over a wide area. The name Five-leaf or Five Fingers refers to the leaves being divided into five leaflets. Each of these is about 1 1/2 inch long, with scattered hairs on the veins and margin. The margins of the leaflets serrated. In rich soils the leaflets are often six or seven. Flowers bloom in late May thru August. Harvest edible young shoots and leaves before flowers bloom. Gather entire plant, in bloom, dry for later herb use.
Recent genetic research has resulted in a number of changes to the circumscription of Potentilla (Eriksson et al., 2003).
The genera Duchesnea, Horkelia, and Ivesia, previously all regarded as distinct, have been shown to be members of Potentilla, though this change has not been universally adopted.
The two species formerly treated as Potentilla palustris and Potentilla salesowianum are now separated into the genus Comarum, while Potentilla tridentata is transferred to Sibbaldiopsis as Sibbaldiopsis tridentata, and Potentilla arguta is similarly now separated into the genus Drymocallis as Drymocallis arguta.
The silverweeds are also separable into the new genus Argentina, though these are closer to the typical species of Potentilla, and this separation is less well supported.
Potentilla is also related to the genera Geum and Dryas, and also to the strawberries in the genus Fragaria; Potentilla differs from the strawberries in having dry, inedible fruit (hence the name “barren strawberry” for some species).
Some species are grown as garden plants.
Cultivation: Cinquefoil is easily grown, prefers full sun but tolerating shade, in any moderately good well-drained soil. Sow seed early spring or autumn.
Collection and Harvesting :The best time to harvest and collect cinquefoil is in the month of June at the peak of summer. During collection, all the discolored or insect eaten leaves are rejected and only whole and undamaged parts are collected – it’s normal to uproot the entire plant. The proper way to dry cinquefoil is in shady sites.
Constituents: Cinquefoil contains tannins, resins, starches, glycine, tormentol, choline, amino acids, minerals (calcium, iron, sulfate, magnesium, potassium, silica, sodium), red pigment, vitamin C, bioflavonoids.
Medicinal Properities and Uses:
Cinquefoil is edible and medicinal, young shoots and leaves are edible in salad or cooked as a pot herb. The plant contains large amounts of tannins making it very astringent. A medicinal infusion made from the root is used in alternative medicine as an astringent, antiseptic, and tonic, used as a mouthwash for “thrash” and taken for dysentery and diarrhoea. A medicinal tonic is used for fevers and debility. A decoction is odontalgic, used as a gargle for loose teeth, spongy gums and, periodotal disease. Fresh juice mixed with honey removes hoarseness and relaxes sore throat, is very medicinal for coughs. A strong decoction is poured over infections, sores, rashes and as a bath additive it is soothing for reddened or irritated skin. An infusion of the leaves makes an excellent skin cleansing lotion and is also used cosmetically as a soothing lotion for reddened skin and for babies delicate skin. Powdered or crushed root stops bleeding. The plant is an ingredient in many anti-wrinkle cosmetic preparations for the skin.
The use of remedies made from the cinquefoil has a long history. Traditionally, cinquefoil was being employed as an herbal astringent and an anti-hemorrhagic agent. It was also a very common folk remedy for treating fevers and related problems in the body. The main anti-bleeding agent in the cinquefoil is the tannic acid present in the extracts of the herb, though the early traditional users of the herb were not aware of this fact. The presence of tannic acid is the reason for the extreme effectiveness of the cinquefoil remedy as an herbal astringent in stopping bleeding in any part of the body. The cinquefoil has also been traditionally linked with a potent ability to cure all kinds of fevers; this has been questioned in recent years, as repeated pharmacological investigations have not shown the herb to posses this ability.
It was an ingredient in many spells in the Middle Ages, and was particularly used as a magic herb in love potions. In an old recipe called ‘Witches’ Ointment’ the juice of Five-leaf Grass, smallage and wolfsbane is mixed with the fat of children dug up from their graves and added to fine wheat flour.
Dose: A medicinal infusion of 1 oz. of the herb to a pint of boiling water. Take 1 cup a day.
Decoction, 1 1/2 oz. of the root, boiled in a quart of water down to a pint.
How much to take:
Cinquefoil infusion: the herbal infusion can be taken thrice a day to treat all kinds of problems. The infusion can be prepared by steeping two teaspoonfuls of the dried and powdered herb in a cup of boiling water for fifteen minutes. The infusion can be prepared fresh on a daily basis.
Herbal compress: chopped cinquefoil can be prepared into an herbal compress to relieve topical disorders. Use one to two tablespoonfuls of chopped fresh cinquefoil and boil it in half a liter – a pint – of water. Allow the herb to steep in the boiling water twenty minutes before straining and cooling. The lukewarm herbal infusion can be made into a moist compress and applied on affected areas of the body. As soon as the herbal compress dries out, it must be moistened in the infusion again – this can be repeated throughout the day for maximum relief.
Cinquefoil tincture: the cinquefoil tincture can be taken in doses of two ml thrice daily to treat a variety of problems.
Cinquefoil is also consumed as a vegetable in Europe and other places. Tender leaves of the cinquefoil can be eaten raw, or finely chopped and added in a salad or cooked in a variety of dishes such as hotpot or vegetable soups. To make external compresses, use dried whole plants that have been dried in the shade. Compresses can also be prepared from fresh decoction – made by steeping one dried whole plant in a cup or 250 ml of water. This herbal compress is excellent for the treatment of external disorders such as suppurations and hemorrhage or bruising. Herbal cinquefoil meant for consumption can be prepared by steeping the dried whole root in a cup – 250 ml – of boiling water. This remedy can be drunk to gain relief from problems like diarrhea, gastritis or uterine hemorrhaging particularly if these problems are chronic in nature. Herbal remedies made from the cinquefoil are also effective in the treatment of fractures or cases of chronic osteoporosis in patients. Since there are no side effects associated with the use of the cinquefoil, the remedies may be used in complete safety and without fear for prolonged treatments that extend for one or two consecutive months. Such treatments are particularly beneficial when the herb is used in combination with other beneficial plants that are rich in chlorophyll content, including plants like the plantain. Cinquefoil remedies can also be combined with herbs which are rich in vitamin C, such as watercress and common sorrel for maximum effectiveness. The combination of the herbal remedies in this way permits an increase in the total volume of minerals and tannins that can be absorbed by the body at any one time during the treatment. Cinquefoil is an extremely effective herb for the detoxification of the body. Addicts to any addictive chemicals benefit from the cinquefoil as the herb helps such people to walk away from addictive alkaloids like nicotine found in tobacco and cocaine extracted from coca leaves.
Pain- Relieving -Decoction:
4 t (10g) fresh cinquefoil leaves
1 t (5 g) fresh valerian roots (if dried, use 3 t)
4 cups (1 liter) water
Boil the fresh plants for 5 minutes (or infuse for 15 minutes if they are dried). Drink 1 cup (250 ml), 4 times daily, before meals.
Effective against all kinds of pain stemming from headaches, diarrhea, neuralgia, premenstrual cramps and even contractions during childbirth.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.