Also known as crampweed, goosewort, wild tansy, argentine, and moon grass, silverweed (Potentilla anserina L.), is a member of the rose family (rosaceae). The plant can be found growing on streambanks, bogs, and damp ground, and while it is native to Eurasia it is naturalised in Southern Australia, New Zealand, and South America.
A tea made from silverweed was used to treat indigestion and menstrual cramps, and toothache and sore gums were treated with a mouthwash made by boiling the plant (decoction). To relieve sore throats, an infusion of the herb was sweetened with honey and gargled.
Described as tasting like chestnuts, parsnips or even sweet potatoes, silverweed's starchy rootstock has prevented regional populations from starving when food was scarce, and has been used as a food by northern Europeans, American Indians, and Eskimos who ate it raw or after it was roasted or boiled.
Various wildlife species also use silverweed as food and because of one of the plant's common names, goosewort, there seems little doubt that geese are among them - goosewort means goose plant, and the species name, anserina, is Latin for 'of or pertaining to geese'.
Silverweed is a good example of a weed that has a number of uses and is often overlooked.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.