Tormentil – characteristics, cultivation and use


Tormentil is a very old healing plant that can be used for numerous ailments. It is a medium-sized, branched plant with bright yellow flowers. As the name implies, the rhizome contains a red dye, which was previously used within the doctrine of signatures to ensure that the root was used as a remedy for bleeding. Due to its tannins, however, tormentil can also relieve inflammation in the mouth and throat, and act against diarrhea. Thanks to their wound-healing and hemostatic properties, it can also be used externally against wounds.

Profile of tormentil:

Scientific name: Potentilla erecta

Plant family: rose family (Rosaceae)

Other names: (common) tormentil, septfoil, erect cinquefoil

Sowing time / Planting time: September – March

Flowering period: May – October

Harvest time: September – November

Useful plant parts: roots

Location: sunny to sunny

Soil quality: dry, rather sandy and nutrient-poor soils

Use as a medicinal herb: stomach and intestinal complaints, colds, sore throat, inflammation of the gums, wound healing, motion sickness

Use as aromatic herb: for spirits

Plant characteristics and classification of tormentil

Origin and occurrence of tormentil

The tormentil is widespread nearly in all of Europe. The medicinal plant is therefore found both in the countries of Scandinavia and in the southern European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy). In addition, the plant can be found in some North Asian countries as well as in Greenland. The plant grows mainly on heaths, nutrient-poor meadows, on sparse forest slopes and forest edges

Plant order of tormentil

Tormentil belongs to the species-rich rose family (Rosaceae). To this plant family belong other well-known medicinal herbs such as the agrimony, the lady’s mantle or the meadowsweet. In the narrower sense, tormentil belongs to the genus of cinquefoil (Potentilla), which contains more than 300 species.

Characteristics of tormentil


Tormentil is a herbaceous, slightly hairy perennial that is about 15 to 50 cm (6 to 20 in) high and just as wide with upright to down-growing slender and branching shoots. The plant forms a thick, bulbous rhizome up to 10 cm (4 in) long and about 3 cm (1.2 in) wide, which branches laterally.


The perennial forms low leaf rosettes. The leaves are dark green on the top, silvery colored on the underside. They are in groups of five and hand-shaped. The leaf margin is roughly serrated.


The flowering period of the bright yellow flowers is often long-lasting and is usually to be expected between the end of May to the end of October. The diameter of a single flower is rarely more than 1 cm (0.4 in). The flower form appears slightly heart-shaped. The color of the flowers is usually yellow at the top and turns into an orange at the bottom.


Following the flowering period, small nut fruits that contain the light brown and slightly wholesome seeds are formed.

yellow tormentil flower
yellow tormentil flower

Tormentil – cultivation, sowing and care


Full-sun to sunny locations with rather dry, sandy, well-drained and nutrient-poor soils are considered optimal as site conditions.


Ideally, the soil should be moist, rich in humus, lean and slightly acid, similar to the natural site. Loamy garden soils, calcareous soils and commercially available potting soil are not recommended for the cultivation of tormentil and should be mixed with sand.


Tormentil can be sown directly in the field or on the balcony. Optimal for the direct sowing are the times September to mid-March. However, a preculture is also possible and should be carried out between the beginning of February and the end of March. Since the seeds need cold to germ, you can sow them in the late autumn or better in early spring with a distance of about 25 cm (10 in) directly into the field.


Tormentil is considered a hardy plant and needs no special treatment on cold days. The above-ground parts of plants die off in the late autumn.


In terms of water supply, tormentil is an adapted dry specialist. It requires little water and should therefore not be regularly poured. Exceptions are very hot days and cultivated plants on the balcony. If the plant grows in small pots, it should be watered at least once a week during the summer months.


Tormentil is a survivalist and needs only relatively few nutrients. In the garden bed should not be fertilized in the first year or only very little (only with compost). In the following year you can once mix in the spring months a few small amount of light organic fertilizer (compost, fertilizer pellets, diluted herb swill).


To harvest the root of tormentil, from about October, the entire rootstock is dug up and cleaned. But this should happen only after the second year of growths. The roots are then dried, crushed and stored in glass jars with screw caps. It is necessary to use up the rhizomes within a year, otherwise their effect will be lost.

Tormentil and its use

Tormentil in the kitchen

The Tormentil is almost meaningless in the kitchen today. In the early Middle Ages, however, the root of the herb was used for some desserts.

The only significant use of the herb or root today is the production of tormentil schnapps. For this purpose, in addition to tormentil powder usually cloves, candy, cinnamon and cardamom are added. The basis is usually a good vodka.

Tormentil as a medicinal herb

The tormentil is a very popular herb in phytomedicine and alternative medicine today. However, the roots of medicinal herbs and their healing properties were already known in antiquity.

Tormentil has been an important ingredient in medieval medicine and has been used for numerous ailments. Almost all old herbal books contain numerous application suggestions and recipes. Then as now, the focus was on using the root.

At a time when plagues were rampant, the blend of pimpinella and tormentil was used for bleeding and wounds. In addition to Paracelsus Sebastian Kneipp also recommended the herb for the “green” home remedy kit.

The herb is still of great importance in alternative medicine or in folk medicine. There are numerous home remedies that are mainly used for complaints in the throat and mouth.

Tormentil can be administered as a tea, as a tincture or as a powder drug. Only the roots of the plant are of medical interest.

Preparation of. tormentil tea

Time needed: 10 minutes

This is how to prepare a tormentil tea by yourself

  1. put one to two teaspoons of tormentil in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with boiling water

  3. let it steep for 8-10 minutes

  4. then drink in small sips

  5. From this tea you drink one to three cups daily.

For complaints in the mouth and throat, it is sufficient if the tea is used as a mouthwash, meaning that a gurgle of tea in this case is sufficient.

When using a tormentil treatment, the daily dose should not exceed 4 to 6 grams per day. Treatment should not be performed for more than two weeks.

Along with the red dye, tormentil also prevent the proliferation of bacteria, viruses and fungi in the body. Its hemostatic properties are used both internally for menstrual problems and externally for small wounds, eczema and burns. As a tincture for gargling or rinsing tormentil relieves mouth, throat, gum or other mucosal inflammations. An ointment from the dried roots helps with rough hands and skin irritations.

Preparation of a tormentil tincture

For a healing tincture you need a transparent glass with screw cap, fresh, well-cleaned roots of the tormentil and some vodka or corn schnapps.

  • cut the roots into small pieces and fill the glass halfway
  • dash the alcohol on top of it
  • seal the jar and place it in a sunny spot for three to four weeks
  • it is necessary to shake the vessel with the mixture daily, so that the remedies dissolve
  • then filter the tincture and put it in small pharmacy vials

The tormentil tincture can be used for mouth and throat inflammation and to regulate bowel function. Add ten drops of the tincture to a glass of water and gargle with it. For diarrheal diseases, you can take about 30 drops three to five times a day in a glass of water.

Tormentil can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • after itching
  • bruise
  • burns
  • diabetes
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • gingivitis
  • gout
  • hemorrhoids
  • immune deficiency
  • loss of appetite
  • lowering blood sugar
  • pharyngitis
  • promotional menstruation
  • rheumatism
  • sore throat
  • stomach upset
  • stomatitis
  • wound

Medicinal properties

  • antibacterial
  • antispasmodic
  • astringent
  • detoxifying
  • hemostatic
  • immunostimulant

Side Effects

Tormentil can cause stomach discomfort if overdosed. Therefore, only the recommended consumption should be respected. The cause is the high tannin content. If there is any uncertainty in the treatment then a doctor or alternative practitioner should be consulted. If diarrhea occurs that last longer than two days, consult a doctor immediately!

Buy Tormentil – What is there to consider?

The trade offers a variety of different tormentil products. The range extends from seeds to various medicines such as capsules, tinctures or dried and cut roots. Fresh plants are rarely offered and are only available in select plant centers or online retailers. The price per plant is about 3-5 € / $,

Tormentil seeds can be found in numerous online shops and marketplaces. Since the seeds are quite easy to store, there is not much to pay attention to here. The price is is about 2 € / $ for 100 seeds.

For the application of tormentil as a medicinal plant cut products are available, which make the preparation of healing teas possible. In addition, there are also finished tinctures, gargle solutions or special tea blends to acquire.

When buying tormentil products, there is a likelihood of confusion with the Canadian tormentil, which is described by the botanical name Sanguinaria canadensis. This is also considered a medicinal plant. However, this plant is mostly used in the field of pain therapies and colds.

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