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Common Tormentil
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Potentilla
Species: P. erecta
Binomial name
Potentilla erecta
Uspenski ex Ledeb.

Common Tormentil (Potentilla erecta syn. Tormentilla erecta, Potentilla tormentilla) is a herbaceous perennial belonging to the rose family (Rosaceae), also known as Septfoil[1] or simply as "tormentil" (which may also refer to similar species of Potentilla however).



It is a low, clumb-forming plant with slender, procumbent to arcuately upright stalks, growing 10-30 cm. tall and with non-rooting runners. It grows wild all over Asia and northern Europe, mostly in a wide variety of habitats, such as clearings, meadows, sandy soils and dunes.

This plant is flowering from May to August/September. There is one yellow, 7-11 mm wide flower, growing at the tip of a long stalk. There are almost always four notched petals, each with a length between 3 and 6 mm. Four petals are rather uncommon in the rose family. The petals are somewhat longer than the sepals. There are 20-25 stamens.

The glossy leaves are pinnately compound. The radical leaves have a long petiole, while the leaves on the stalks are usually sessile and have sometimes shorter petioles. Each leaf consists of three obovate leaflets with serrate leaf margins. The stipules are leaflike and palmately lobed.

There are 2-8 dry, inedible fruits.


The rhizomatous root is thick. A lotion prepared from the dried root has been used both as medicine to treat a number of ailments (to stop bleedings or against diarrhea), for food in times of need and to dye leather red.

The plant is particularly used in herbal medicine as an astringent because of its tannin content, which is unusually high for an herbaceous plant. This is linked to its use as a red dye, which is due to the structurally similar phlobaphene content[2].




  1. ^ Septfoil - definition of Septfoil by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Lund, K. and Rimpler, H. (1985) Deutsche Apotheke Zeitung 125 (3), 105.


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