Common name: Silverweed, silver weed cinquefoil, common silverweed
Botanical name: Potentilla anserina (syn Argentina anserina)
Worldwide distribution: Native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere.
Local distribution: Very common throughout the UK and Ireland.
Habitat: Grassland, wasteland, meadows and riverside.
Foraging season: Roots in late summer and autumn. Leaves spring to autumn.
The leaves are what give rise to this plant’s name, which are a distinctive silver-green on the topside and coated of silvery grey fine hairs on the underside. This makes silverweed unique and easy to find amongst the grasses.
It’s said the leaves can be placed in shoes to absorb excess sweat because the starch content help absorbing moisture.
All parts of silverweed are edible. The flavour of the leaves is not particularly attractive but they can be tossed into salads or made into an herbal tea. It’s the roots that are of main interest due to its starch content, though they have been long considered famine food because they are fiddly to collect, so small to use and hard to clean.
The flavour is good, crisp and nutty with a pleasant starchy flavour, similar to Jerusalem artichokes. The roots were boiled or baked and sometimes dried and ground into flour to make bread.