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Sunday, December 25, 2011
SILVERWEED : HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF SILVERWEED
Silverweed or goosegrass is native to
Europe including the British Isles, North America and Asia. It is also known by the Latin name, anserina this name having nothing to do with the country Argentina , but the word comes from the Latin, “argent” which means silver. The leaves are silvery because of the fine hairs on them. It probably gets the name goosegrasss because geese enjoy it, and only sheep turn their noses up at it; other animals seem to relish it.(It should not be confused with Cleavers which is also called goosegrass.) Argentina
It grows up to about a metre long and can grow up to a foot high, and creeps along the ground rapidly with its tendrils. The five petalled yellow flowers are pretty and the plant is cultivated for ground cover. It seems that the edible roots of the cultivated plants are thicker than those of the straggly ones from the wild plants, but these have been eaten in times of scarcity and are said to have a nutty flavour, resembling that of parsnips or chestnuts. Silverweed is a member of the Rosaceae family of plant making it a distant relative of plum, peach and apricot trees as well as the rose. The roots can be eaten raw, boiled or roasted and are starchy in texture.
Its Latin name Potentilla comes from potens meaning powerful and anser meaning goose in Latin. In
Europe the whole plant is used medicinally and has been a specific treatment for jaundice. It is also regarded as a good diuretic for dispersing gravel in the organs.
A strong decoction has been used for mouth ulcers, lose teeth, bleeding gums and so on. Native Americans used the roots in a tisane to speed up labour in childbirth and as an antispasmodic for diarrhoea. It is mainly regarded as an astringent herb and good for a tonic.
The ancient physicians of Myddfai recommended it with other herbs for women who could not have children. Here is their remedy for female sterility:
“ A sterile woman may have a potion prepared for her by means of the following herbs, viz:—St. John's wort, yew, agrimony, amphibious persicaria, creeping cinque foil, mountain club moss, orpine and pimpernel, taking an emetic in addition.”
Writing in the 17th century Nicholas Culpeper had this to say of the herb:-