Western Isles Wildflowers
Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.
Gaelic name: Brisgean
Silverweed is also known as anser, argentina, prince's feathers, wild agrimony, trailing tansy, goosewort,
goose tansy, silvery cinquefoil, and more grass.
The flowers of silverweed are very like those of a strawberry plant in shape, but buttercup yellow in colour.
The leaves of silverweed are pinnate, which means they are arranged on opposite sides of a stalk, they are very soft and silky, and the underside is quite silvery in appearance giving the plant it's most common name.
Silverweed is stoloniferous, which means that one of the ways it reproduces itself is by creeping across the soil and rooting from its stem in the same manner as a strawberry reproduces through runners. It is one of several plants growing abundantly in the Western Isles which is related to the strawberry plant.
The root will readily reroot if broken, forming a new plant, so if silverweed invades the vegetable patch it is best removed, especially before rotavating! Silverweed will thrive in most soils, it is particulary common in waste ground, damp ground and along roadsides.
Silverweed is native to the Western Isles.
Silverweed root has many herbal uses, note that the thin brown roots are fiddly to wash in quantity.
The whole plant has strongly astringent properties (the roots strongest of all) and has been used in the treatment of piles and other internal bleeding, and generally to clear any sores which have not been healing well.
A strong brew has been used to treat sore throats (as a gargle), to treat ulcers, poor gums, loose teeth, toothache and to relax the uvula (a fleshy part of the palate which hangs down over the tounge and which may become swollen and enlarged in people who snore).
Silverweed tea has been used to clear eye inflammation.
Silverweed tea has been also used as a drink to prevent smallpox marks, and generally to improve the skin and take away blemishes and discolouration, removing freckles and spots, and in helping to restore the skin after sunburn.
This wildflower has been used as a tonic.
Silverweed was considered a specific for treating jaundice.
A very hot tea was used to treat lockjaw (tetanus)
A tea and a compress wer used for cramps of stomach, abdomen or heart.
It has been used to treat ague - chills / shivering / fever (as in malaria)
It is said to be helpful to the moist membranes of the female reproductive system, in clearing infection.
Silverweed has been used as a diuretic, and in the treatment of "gravel" (probably including kidney stones, some sorts of joint pain, gout and some types of bunion pain)
Cattle, horses, goats, pigs and geese will eat silverweed. Sheep do not.
Reputedly the leaves were stuffed into shoes to remove unpleasant odours.
In the Western Isles the starchy roots of silverweed root were boiled and eaten.
More About Names
Silverweed used to be called Argentina from the Latin, argent meaning silver
Another name Anserina came from the Latin, Anser, meaning a goose, geese are fond of it.
The first part of the Latin name, the genus Potentilla, is derived from the Latin potens, powerful, refering to the medicinal properties of some of the species of this genus.
Photograph Callanish - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
11th June, 2006
Silverweed is just starting to flower at this date