This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
The beautiful but too common Silverweed may be taken as a good representative of a genus of Rose-worts that may be conveniently called Cinquefoils, although the leaf of this species has many instead of five divisions. This is the plant that grows in dense patches by the roadside, erecting its long pinnate silky leaves and showing the silvery-greyness of the underside. Its rootstock is the centre from which many rooting runners radiate. The toothed leaflets are not opposite, as may appear at first sight, but alternate; and there is the very peculiar arrangement of two minute leaflets being placed between each two large ones. The flowers are large in proportion to the plant, of one uniform yellow, and borne singly on a long stalk. The calyx is cleft into ten lobes, the petals are five, stamens and carpels many. Although it is a common roadside weed, it may also be met growing abundantly and much more luxuriantly in wet pastures. It flowers chiefly from June to August, and sparingly much later in the year. Among its more immediate congeners may be noted:
I. The Tormentil (P. tormentilla), a tiny plant that is abundant on heaths and dry pastures. It has a thick rootstock, and slender, hairy, creeping stems. The leaves are cut into three, sometimes five, fingers, which are more or less wedge-shaped, the free end lobed or toothed. Flowers yellow, and similar to those of P. anserina, but smaller, and usually with only four petals. June to September.
II. Creeping Cinquefoil (P. reptans). Similar to P. tormentilla but larger. Leaflets five, sometimes three, petals five. Meadows and waysides. June to September.
III. Barren Strawberry (P. fragariastrum). Flowers white. March to June. The general characters of this impostor have been given on page 27, when describing the Wild Strawberry. The plant has a general silkiness which is foreign to the strawberry.
The name of the genus is from the Latin, potens, powerful, some of the species having formerly considerable reputation as medicines.
Potentilla anserina, - Rosaceae. -