Potentilla tormentilla. N.O. Rosaceae.
Synonym ► Septfoil (seven leaf), Tormentilla. Habitat ► Dry pasture and moorland.
Features ► The height of this freely-forked plant varies between six and twelve inches. The ternate, jagged-toothed leaves are rather long and narrow, the leaflets oblong in form. Upper leaves derive directly from the stem and seem to circle round it, the lower ones being frequently stalked. Flowering in June and July, the bright yellow petals are distinctly separate, and, seen from above, form an almost perfect Maltese cross. The root is brown, hard and cylindrical, with roundish swellings and tiny, thread-like rootlets. The fracture shows light brownish-red, with a large pith.
Part used ► Root and herb.
Action ► Tonic and astringent.
The root is regarded as one of the best and most powerful of all the herbal astringents. The decoction of 1 ounce to 1 pint (reduced) of water in wineglass doses is consequently used in diarrhea and as a gargle for relaxed throats. It may also be used with benefit as a lotion for application to ulcers.
Tormentil was appreciated as a medicine far back in the days of Culpeper, who made his usual picturesquely extravagant claims for the herb.