Specification & Spread

Potentilla rhizomes — rhizomata tormentillae
Tormentil — potentilla erecta (l.) Raeuschel ( = potentilla tormentilla stokes)
Rose family — rosaceae
Other names: wild kalgan, dubrovka, uzik, sticking root, umbilical cord, drevlyanka, braid, umbilical herb.
It is a perennial herbaceous plant 15-50 cm tall.
The rhizome is woody, thick, often lumpy, 2-7 cm in length and 1-3 cm in thickness, with numerous thin adventitious roots.
The bottom sand leaves are long-petiolate, 3-5 palmately compound and die by the time of flowering.
The stems are numerous, thin and ascending. At the top it is  forcipate and branching.
The stem leaves are alternate, trifoliate, with two large leaf-shaped stipules; The folioles are oblong and coarse-toothed along edge.
The stems and leaves are covered with hairs.
The flowers are in rare cymoid inflorescences on long pedicels, regular and with a double tetramerous perianth.
The calyx is double, with subactivity. The corolla consists of 4 yellow petals, in contrast to other species of cinquels, having a tetramerous perianth (diagnostic sign). There are a lot of stamens and pistils.
The fruit is a poly-nut consisting of 5–12 wrinkled peanuts of dark olive or brown colour.
It blooms from May to September, the fruits ripen in August – September.
Spreading. It is widely spread throughout the forest zone of the European part of the country, enters the Urals and Western Siberia, also it grows in the Caucasus.
Habitat. It grows on damp and dry places, along forest edges, clearings, between shrubs, on dry and swampy meadows, in young plantings, on the outskirts of peat bogs, in sparse coniferous and coniferous-small-leaved forests.


The highest content of tannins in rhizomes was found at the beginning of flowering.
After flowering, the amount of biologically active substances (especially tannins) decreases.
Potentilla rhizomes contain

  • 15-30% tannins with a predominance of: condensed tannins,
  • as well as free phenols (pyrocatechin, phloroglucin),
  • phenolic acids (gallic, caffeic, para-coumaric),
  • catechins (catechin, gallocatechin, gallocatechin gallat),
  • flavonoids,
  • triterpene saponins.

The rhizomes contain a lot of starch. There are resins and gums.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The preparation of the raw materials is carried out in the flowering phase, because in the autumn and spring, potentilla is invisible among other plants. The rhizomes, usually located at a depth of 5-10 cm, are dug out with shovels or diggers, free from sod and shake. Then, the stems and roots are cut off, washed in cold water, laid out in place of the billet to dry from external moisture and wicked, and then delivered to the final drying site.
Security measures. The solid harvesting of the potentilla rhizomes is unacceptable. For every 1-2 m2 one flowering or fruiting specimen for reproduction is left. The repeated harvesting on the same bush is possible in 6-7 years.
Drying. The rhizomes are dried in the open air on dense fabric or in well-ventilated areas, scattering a thin layer on shelves. The temperature of artificial drying is not higher than 60 ºС. The raw materials are need to be mixed periodically.
Storage. It is stored in a dry, dark place in bags or boxes.

Whole raw materials
The rhizomes are straight or curved, cylindrical or tuberiform, often of indeterminate form, hard and heavy, with numerous lacunose marks from the cut roots and lumpy scars from the stems. The length is from 2 to 7 cm (on average 3-4 cm), the thickness is 1-2 cm (not less than 0.5 cm).
The colour outside is dark brown to reddish brown, in a fracture is from yellowish to reddish brown.
The fracture is smooth or slightly fibrous.
The smell is weak and pleasant. The taste is very astringent.
Milled raw materials
The pieces of rhizomes of various shapes are ranging in size from 1 to 8 mm.
From other types of potentilla, potentilla is erect, well-distinguished by tetramerous flowers.
Distinctive signs of some types of potentilla
Diagnostic signs of tormentil – Potentilla erecta (L.) Raeuschel Silvery cinquefoil – Potentilla argentea L. Goose grasse – Potentilla anserina L.
Subterraneous organ. The rhizomes uare nevenly thickened, cylindrical or tuberiform. The root is rachidian, in the upper part it is covered with remnants of leaves.
The pubescence is rare, dense, whitish. On the stems and from the underside of leaves it is dense and silky-silver from the underside of the leaves.
The leaves are sessile, trifoliate, with 2 stipules, form «toe» on the stem, petiolate, 5-palmately compound, unpaired, intermittently pinnate with 4-10 pairs of folioles.

Properties and application

The main substances that determine the pharmacological activity of potentilla are:

  • condensed tannins,
  • triterpene saponins and
  • flavonoids.

The rhizomes of tormentil have:

  • astringent
  • bactericidal,
  • anti-inflammatory and
  • hemostatic effect.

The local anti-inflammatory effect is associated with tannins that can create a biological film that protects tissues from the chemical, bacterial and mechanical effects that accompany inflammation. At the same time, the permeability of the capillaries decreases, and the vessels become narrow. These features of action are well shown on the inflamed, reddened mucous membranes at:

  • pharyngitis,
  • stomatitis,
  • gingivitis
  • as well as gastritis and enteritis.

The general anti-inflammatory effect is associated with the action of flavonoids.
Application of potentilla
The decoction and tincture of potentilla rhizomes are applied inside when:

  • enteritis,
  • enterocolitis,
  • dyspepsia,
  • dysentery,
  • ulcerative colitis with intestinal bleeding,
  • with gastritis,
  • gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer,
  • as a choleretic agent.

The decoction is used for douching when:

  • colpitis,
  • vaginitis,
  • erosion of the cervix.

Potentilla is used to rinse with:

  • inflammatory diseases of the oral cavity (stomatitis, gingivitis),
  • bleeding gums,
  • with sore throat and chronic tonsillitis.

In the form of appliqués, potentilla  decoction is used when:

  • hemorrhoids,
  • burns,
  • eczema,
  • neurodermatitis,
  • cracks in the skin and mucous membranes,
  • with sweating feet.
  • Hypersensitivity to the preparation.
  • pregnancy;
  • breastfeeding period;
  • children’s age (up to 12 years).