In the Wild
Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans)
*Also known as European cinquefoil
Dwarf Cinquefoil (P. canadensis)
Creeping cinquefoil grows four to six inches tall and has yellow, five-petaled flowers that resemble small, wild roses. Stalks with a single flower or leaf rise up from the stems, which grow along the ground. Leaves consist of five or seven oval, coarsely toothed leaflets. Dwarf cinquefoil is two to four inches tall and has similar flowers. Its leaflets are wedge shaped. The leaves on both of these plants grow in a circular pattern around the stalks. Their flowers bloom from May to August.
The genus name Potentilla comes from the Latin potens, which means “powerful.” 53 For this reason, medieval knights often used the leaf as an emblem on their shields. The name cinquefoil means “five leaves.” 54 Cinquefoil has been associated with mothers and their children because the leaves bend over and shield the flowers when it rains.
While this plant was, according to legend, used for protection against witches, it was also believed that witches rubbed it on their bodies to produce a trancelike state. Cinquefoil was said to be one of the few yellow flowers acceptable to Hecate for her garden.
Hang a sprig of leaves over your front door for protection. A flower and sprig of leaves in a sachet can be used as a charm to strengthen the relationship with your mother and/or child.
To break a hex or any form of negative magic, make an infusion of leaves. Without straining out the plant material, take it outside and pour it on the ground as you say:
This spell that someone tried to cast; is not to be, it will not last. With this potion I now pour; all harm is banished from my door.
Other cinquefoils often mentioned for magic work include silverweed cinquefoil (Potentilla anserina syn. Argentina anserina), which is also known as common silverweed. This plant can be distinguished by its numerous leaflets along the stems rather than in a circle around them. Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa syn. Dasiphora fruticosa) is a bushy shrub that grows about three feet tall.
Cinquefoil is associated with the elements earth and fire. Its astrological influence comes from Jupiter and Mercury.