Silverweed: Delight for Geese and Animals

Author: Henrik Aulbach



Lesezeit: 5 min

Silverweed is a favorite among animals: Its name comes from the fact that geese love to nibble on it. Farmers consider silverweed a small lifesaver that can help animals with certain injuries and illnesses. It has been used for millennia.

Distribution of Silverweed

In Central Europe, silverweed (Potentilla anserina L.) is widely spread. Its native habitat includes the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. This rose plant thrives in meadows, fields, pastures, riverbanks, and roadsides. It prefers nourishing soils, but it can even grow on stony ground.

Effect of Silverweed as an Antispasmodic Herb

As a medicinal plant, silverweed is especially known for its antispasmodic properties. Its antispasmodic effect was noticed by herbalists Kneipp and Madaus. This effect is particularly pronounced in the digestive organs and the uterus, making it a common herbal remedy for gastrointestinal and menstrual issues. Additionally, the plant is believed to have soothing and anti-inflammatory effects. Chewing the root is also said to help with gum inflammation.

Silverweed is commonly administered as tea or dissolved in milk – ancient Germans might have preferred the latter. The fatty milk enhances the absorption of the active compounds. For external application, a tincture can be prepared from the flowers, leaves, and stems of this rose plant to treat inflamed wounds.

Traditionally, silverweed has been used against fever. For this purpose, the leaves were crushed and mixed with vinegar and salt. This mixture was then applied as a compress to the soles of the feet of the person with a fever.

The Diverse Ingredients of Silverweed

Tannins are among the most important ingredients of silverweed. Additionally, the following secondary plant compounds are present:

  • Bitter substances
  • Mucilage
  • Flavonoids
  • Choline

The abundant vitamin C content of silverweed is helpful in nutrition. As you can see, consuming it is worthwhile.

Preparing Silverweed Yourself

If you want to prepare the leaves, you can simply soften them in a little saltwater, similar to spinach. Since the flavor of silverweed leaves is mild, they are perfect for wild herb salads or with vegetables.

The yellow flowers are excellent as edible decoration. Just for this reason, it's worth cultivating silverweed in your garden.

The highest concentration of secondary plant compounds can be found in the roots. These are not only used for delicious root vegetables but can also be processed into preparations if needed.

Potentilla Tincture and Herbal Milk: High-Quality Processing

To harness the benefits of potentilla, you can generally prepare a tincture, tea, or herbal milk.

Potentilla Drops or Tinctures

For the tincture, finely chop the silver leaves of the potentilla and place them in a screw-top jar. Fill the jar with 45% alcohol, ideally using vodka or brandy. Seal the jar and place it in a warm location, shaking it daily. After about three weeks, strain the tincture and transfer it to a dark glass bottle.


For a tea, simply cut dried or fresh potentilla into small pieces. 3 - 5 teaspoons are steeped in 300 ml of boiling water. The tea should steep for 10 minutes. When it has cooled a bit, you can also use the tea for gargling.

Herbal Milk

As mentioned above, the ancient Germans likely prepared herbal milk with potentilla. For this, fresh herbs are combined with milk in a pot and boiled. After bringing it to a boil, let the milk steep for a few minutes. The fats in the milk can then dissolve non-water-soluble plant compounds.

Appearance of Potentilla

This biennial plant with its feathery leaves grows to a height of only 30 centimeters. Runners develop at the leaf axils, producing new roots and explaining the rapid spread. Between May and September, the potentilla blooms in bright yellow, fully opening its flowers only when the sun shines. During dry periods, the plant bends its leaves to reflect more light and likely warmth.

Planting Potentilla in Your Own Garden

Would you like to cultivate soothing potentilla at home? Cultivation is relatively easy, and as a ground cover, it can spread easily in garden areas where you'd prefer less work.

A sunny location that can occasionally have partial shade is ideal for potentilla. A nutrient-rich, moist, and dense soil with high levels of clay and loam is optimal. Sandy soils are not suitable for potentilla.

Seeds are usually sown in late summer from September to October. Sensitivity is important here, as a certain temperature is required for seed germination. In open ground, the sowing period is between January and March.

The plant can tolerate occasional waterlogging. It doesn't require fertilization in open ground, but a mineral universal fertilizer can be beneficial in the bed. The harvesting period is between May and September, and the roots are not harvested to allow the ground cover to spread.

From Root to Preparation: Potentilla as Nature's Treasure

When cultivating potentilla yourself, you can process the flowers, leaves, and even roots. We recommend refraining from using the roots during the first 3 years to allow the potentilla to establish itself. During this time, you can prepare and consume the leaves and flowers as described above, either cooked or raw.

However, the highest concentration of active ingredients is found in the roots. These can also be eaten raw, although due to the taste, most people prefer using preparations. Chewing potentilla root has helped some individuals with oral issues. A tincture made from the roots can be consumed, particularly for gastrointestinal discomfort.

Fascinating Facts About Potentilla

In veterinary medicine, potentilla has also proven effective, for instance in treating colic in ruminants. Farmers often use the herb to treat their animals, which in turn consume it willingly – that's why it frequently grows in pastures. Geese are also fond of potentilla, likely giving rise to the name-related connection between the animal and the plant.

Potentilla: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of the name "Potentilla"?

In Latin, Potentilla anserina is called "goosefinger herb," which translates roughly to "combat herb." "Potentilla" comes from "potentia," meaning "power" or "strength." The German name "Gänsefingerkraut" (goosefinger herb) is derived from the fact that where nitrate-rich soils, suitable for potentilla growth, are often found, geese also tend to be native. Additionally, geese have a taste for goosefinger herb. The "anserina" in Potentilla anserina, by the way, also stands for "goose."

Is Potentilla suitable for children?

There is no conclusive evidence on whether potentilla can be used for children or if it poses any risks. We strongly advise seeking consultation with a physician if you believe that potentilla might benefit your child. Attempting such treatment on your own is not recommended.

What are the other names for Potentilla in different regions?

In addition to the Latin name Potentilla anserina, there are, of course, other terms for the herb. The following common names exist:

  • Anserina
  • Gooserich
  • Sour Herb
  • Cramp Herb
  • Gooserich
  • Goose Willow
  • Martin's Hand

Can Potentilla be used in cooking?

Yes, it can be! You can enjoy leaves, flowers, and roots either raw or cooked. Among these, the roots have the highest concentration of active compounds. The leaves can be used like spinach in meat dishes or salads. The flowers are ideal for decorative purposes.

Can Potentilla be used for animals?

Potentilla is not toxic to humans. Similarly, it is non-toxic to animals such as dogs, cats, and horses. However, before administering potentilla to your pet, consult a veterinarian. In principle, potentilla can also help with digestive problems in dogs, for example.

How long does it take to notice results from using Potentilla?

This is highly individual. While some people swear by potentilla for conditions like gastrointestinal issues, others may not notice any effects after use. It depends on you and your specific symptoms whether and when potentilla can provide relief.

What role does Potentilla play in modern phytotherapy?

In modern phytotherapy, there are scientifically recognized applications for potentilla. When used internally, it is employed for nonspecific diarrhea with cramping, other abdominal and pelvic pains with spasms, and menstrual complaints. It is available in dosage forms such as tablets or tea mixtures.