Closely related to Silverweed, this adaptable perennial is found on grassland, heath, boggy areas, woods, mountainsides and even sand dunes throughout Scotland.
Slender limp stems have a creeping aspect, can appear reddish in summer, and rise to branch out at the upper part. The leaves are markedly toothed, like Silverweed, but only 3 – 5 leaflets on a leaf stalk. At the base of the plant the leaves have petioles, or stalks, but are sessile, or stalk-less, further up the stem.
The tiny flowers, about 1cm across, have 4 petals, unusual for the rose family, with 4 pointed sepals arranged symmetrically between the separated petals. 20 yellow stamens stand proud of the petals with orange pollened anthers. The petals are yellow with tiny orange spots at the base.
The roots of the Tormentil had many uses in ancient Scotland, as a dye and for tanning leather. If you cut the root a blood red liquid oozes out. This has a very high tannin content and makes an excellent dye. It is not good to eat because of its bitter tannin taste.
Herbal medicine proclaims it as the best cure for toothache. It has strongly astringent properties useful for reliving swelling, chapping and soreness.