By Janelle Eklund
A light rain landed on bright yellow petals and rich green leaves nourishing this shrubby plant. This bright landing field attracts butterflies and bees who feed off of its sweet nectar. Five petals (cinque meaning five) dance around yellow stamens. This splash of yellow accents its greenery of leaves that house five leaflets.
Potentilla is often sold at nurseries as a showy plant for the yard. I skipped the nursery and started a wild one in my flower bed. It's a little under the eaves so as long as it’s watered it does pretty good. Potentilla is also called tundra rose mimicking another in its family, prickly rose, with its five petals. I planted one of these wild prickly roses next to it in the flower bed. They seem to complement each other - the bright yellow of Potentilla flowers contrasting with pink rose petals and orange rosehips every year.
'Potent' medicinally describes its scientific name, Potentilla. All parts of the plant have strong qualities and can be chopped and dried. Since the plant is astringent, it has been used to reduce inflammation in the gums and tonsils. Making a tea out of it and using it for a week or more (depending on how severe the problem) can increase the healing of esophagus and stomach ulcers and inflammation. Drinking a pot of the tea can also help a fever and diarrhea. The herb can also be prepared as a tincture for long storage.
It is important to use this plant in moderation because of its astringency and the fact that it contains tannic acid which is a gastrointestinal irritant and toxic to the kidneys.
Enjoy the sunny beauty of this three foot tall shrub throughout the summer season.
From my light to yours-
References: Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore; Discovering Wild Plants by Janice Schofield
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WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.
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