Potentilla anserina

Common Name: silkweed 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, moist but well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but will not grow in full shade. Best performance typically occurs in cool northern summer climates. Plants often perform poorly in hot and humid summers south of USDA Zone 7. Established plants have respectable drought tolerance, however. Will reseed in the garden in optimum growing conditions. Spreads by runners.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Potentilla anserine, commonly called silverweed, silverweed cinquefoil or goosegrass, is a prostrate herbaceous perennial in the rose family that typically grows to as much as 12” tall, spreading by white-hairy, strawberry-like runners which creep along the ground rooting at the nodes to form new plants. Solitary, 5-petaled, bright yellow flowers (to 1” across), each flower having 20-25 short yellow center stamens, bloom singly from June to August atop leafless stalks rising 1-4” from a runner node. Basal tufts of silky, feathery, silvery, pinnate-compound leaves (each leaf to 4-8” long bearing 9-31 leaflets) appear in basal rosettes. Deeply toothed, oblong to lanceolate leaflets (each to 2” long) are green above but silky-silvery beneath.

Silverweed is the only plant in the genus Potentilla that features solitary flowers and pinnate compound leaves on separate stalks.

It is native primarily to moist ground (wet meadows, water body peripheries, sandy shores) from Alaska to Newfoundland south to California, New Mexico, Iowa, the Great Lakes and New York plus parts of Europe and Asia.

All parts of this plant are edible. Leaves can be added to salads or stews or used to make interesting herbal teas. Roots can be roasted, added to soups or stews or simply boiled.

Medical herbalists consider this plant to have a number of medicinal applications, including uses as an astringent, antispasmodic, diuretic, haemostatic, odentalgic and tonic.

Argentina anserine is a synonym.

Genus name from Latin potens meaning powerful is in reference to the reputed medicinal properties of the plant.

Specific epithet comes from Latin meaning goose in reference to the plant often being abundant on areas grazed by geese or because the leaves of some species in the genus are reminiscent of goose footprints.

Common name of silverweed describes general plant appearance (entire plant is covered with silky-hairy leaves).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Moist soils in lowland areas. Pond and stream margins.