A Little Bit of Cinquefoil Magic*
She looks like a strawberry... but with five serrated leaflets per leaf with scattered hairs on the veins and margins... and a lovely solitary five-petaled yellow flower that closes up at night, opening in the warmth of the morning sun. Potentilla canadensis is her name, or dwarf Cinquefoil, belonging to the genus Potentilla among over 300 species of plants, and in the rose family. This native Cinquefoil can be found across the eastern U.S. in disturbed, dry soils.
Her young shoots and leaves are edible, wonderful in salad or cooked.
Medicinally, an infusion or strong tea made from her highly tannic leaves is used as an astringent, antiseptic, and tonic - as a mouthwash for thrush, to treat dysentery or diarrhea. A stronger decoction has been used to pour over infections and to soothe inflamed skin, including inflammation in the mouth. The fresh juice is also mixed with honey to soothe a hoarse or dry throat, and the powdered root is used to stop bleeding. Cinquefoil can also be tinctured to treat a variety of ailments. Some sources support the use of flowers as well as the roots, shoots, and greens.
Cinquefoil also has a rich history of magical use. According to some sources, the Natchez would give the plant to a person who was bewitched. In Medieval Europe, Cinquefoil was used for a number of magical uses, including protection, success while fishing, and often... as an ingredient in love potions. The five-petaled flower has also been used as a symbol of the five-senses and of a person who had achieved mastery over the self, exhibiting the qualities of strength, power, honor, and loyalty. Hence, many medieval knights worked to earn the right to emblazon the Cinquefoil's five-fingered leaf symbol on their shield. The flower was also often used in the architecture of numerous churches built in Normandy and Brittany from the 9th to 14th centuries.
She is a powerful plant with a rich history, and I invite you to get to know her... especially as she is likely dwelling close by. As always, please do your own research, use caution, and follow your intuition!
For the wild in us all!
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