Silverweed: Plant profile
Silverweed, Silver Weed, Common Silverweed, Cinquefoil, Briosclán
Potentilla anserina (syn Argentina anserina)
Native throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Very common throughout the UK and Ireland.
Where to find Silverweed
Grassland, wasteland, meadows and riverside.
When to find Silverweed
Roots in late summer and autumn. Leaves spring to autumn.
How to identify Silverweed
Silverweed is a perennial creeping, trailing plant growing up to 30cm in height. The leaves are compound, with many oblong, serrated leaflets. They are wooly and silvery-green in colour. The flower is yellow, have five petals and grows on a leafless stalk between June and September.
It could be confused with other related plants Potentilla sp. such as Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans).
All about Silverweed
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.
Medicinal properties of Silverweed
The entire plant is antispasmodic, mildly astringent, diuretic, and haemostatic.
It’s said the leaves can be placed in shoes to absorb excess sweat because the starch content helps absorbing moisture.
Culinary uses and recipes with Silverweed
All parts of silverweed are edible, though the flavour and texture of the leaves is not particularly attractive. They still 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. However they have been long considered famine food because they are fiddly to collect, so small to use and hard to clean. They can be dried and ground into a powder to use in soups and stews.
The flavour is good, crisp and nutty with a pleasant starchy flavour, similar to Jerusalem artichokes. Apparently, at some point the roots were boiled or baked, sometimes dried and ground into flour to make bread.
Safe foraging of Silverweed
Some sources cite possible stomach irritation in certain individuals.
Ecological importance of Silverweed
The flowers provide a nectar source for bees, particularly the honeybee.