Other Names: Five Fingers, Five-Finger Blossom, Five-finger grass, Sunkfield, Synkefoyle, Common Cinquefoil, Creeping Cinquefoil, Oldfield Cinquefoil
Cinquefoil Herb Use and Medicinal Properties
Cinquefoil contains large amounts of tannins making it very astringent. A medicinal infusion made from Cinquefoil root is used in alternative medicine as an astringent, antiseptic, and tonic. It is used as a mouthwash for "thrush" and taken for dysentery and diarrhea. A medicinal tonic is used for fevers and debility. A decoction is odontalgic, used as a gargle for loose teeth, spongy gums and, periodontal disease. Fresh juice of Cinquefoil mixed with honey removes hoarseness and relaxes sore throat, is very medicinal for coughs. A strong decoction is poured over infections, sores, rashes and as a bath additive it is soothing for reddened or irritated skin. An infusion of Cinquefoil leaves makes an excellent skin cleansing lotion and is also used cosmetically as a soothing lotion for reddened skin and for babies delicate skin. Powdered or crushed root stops bleeding. Cinquefoil is an ingredient in many anti-wrinkle cosmetic preparations for the skin.
Young shoots and leaves of Cinquefoil are edible in salad or cooked as a pot herb.
Cinquefoil Habitat and Description
Cinquefoil is a perennial herb native to Eastern and Central N. America from Nova Scotia to North Carolina, Alabama, Minnesota and Missouri. It is found growing in dry open woods, on prairie hillsides, roadsides, and in old fields and waste places. Cinquefoil blooms in late May through August. The roots are long, slender rhizomes branched at the top from several crowns, from which arise the long-stalked leaves and solitary, yellow flowers that close up at night, and threadlike, creeping stems. Cinquefoil stem-runners root at intervals and often attain a length of 5 feet or more, spreading over a wide area. The name Five-leaf or Five Fingers refers to the leaves being palmately divided into five leaflets. Each of these is about 1 1/2 inch long, with scattered hairs on the veins and margin. The margins of the leaflets are serrated.
How to Grow Cinquefoil
Cinquefoil is easily grown, prefers full sun but tolerating shade, in any moderately good well-drained soil. Sow seed early spring or autumn. Harvest edible young shoots and leaves before flowers bloom. Gather entire plant, in bloom, dry for later herb use.
Photo (Above) by Karen Bergeron Copyright 2000
Cinquefoil Folklore and History
Cinquefoil was an ingredient in manymagic spells in the Middle Ages, and was particularly used as an herb in love potions. In an old recipe called 'Witches' Ointment' the juice of Five-leaf Grass, smallage and wolfsbane is mixed with the fat of children dug up from their graves and added to fine wheat flour.
Cinquefoil Herb Recipes
Tea: A medicinal infusion of 1 oz. of the herb to a pint of boiling water. Take 1 cup a day.
Decoction, 1 1/2 oz. of the root, boiled in a quart of water down to a pint.
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron