The cinquefoil meaning derives from its folklore and history.
While the scientific name for the plant is Potentilla it’s also commonly called cinquefoil, five finger grass or crampweed.
This little plant considered as a weed is full of magic and mysteries.
In this blog we will explore in depth what the plant means and how its meaning has evolved over times.
What does a cinquefoil symbolise?
The cinquefoil symbolises beloved child, maternal affection and parental love. The possible powers from the plant are protection, leadership, power, prophetic dreams and wealth. The plant falls under the dominion of the planet Jupiter.
Potentilla name meaning
The word Cinquefoil translates to five leaves. In some versions the leaves were associated to the five senses of man.
It was considered as a heraldic device and was an honour to those who had successfully mastered their senses.
Another meaning was that it represented love, money, health, power and wisdom. If you carried the plant then those powers would be bestowed to you.
When the weather was wet the plant would contract and bend over the flower that was forming. This was symbolic of a mother protecting her child. This symbolism is also another one of the cinquefoil meaning.
Beliefs and Folklore
The plant was believed to help with fevers. This was during a time where fevers were considered as a work of the witches and the plant as cure for witchcraft.
Furthermore, there was a custom in ancient times where people would hang on the doors the plant. It was also combined with hawthorn that was gathered on May Day. This was believed to release them from the witches.
The Cinquefoil was also a symbol of luck in Wales. People would dig up the roots on May Eve and carry them in their pockets.
The author Sarah Hewett wrote about a lore that comes from Devonshire. It states that the flower expands then it would rain. However, if the flower contracts then the weather would be fine.
The plant was used as a tea to treat diarrhoea. The tea was also used in Alabama to treat fevers.
Herbalists also noted that the plant was used as cure for toothaches.
If you ever found a potentilla leaf that has seven points then you would put it under your pillow and this would make you dream of your future lover.
The cinquefoil leaf would bear a positive outcome in court when you wear it.
Cinquefoil the Witch herb
The plant was considered as witch plant and there are several records of its magical uses.
During Medieval times, the French witches used it as a main ingredient to create a flying ointment.
Another use of the cinquefoil was in philtres for both love and hate. The recipe contained other ingredients like adders or spiders.
The Pennsylvania Germans also used it as a main ingredient for love philtres:
To gain the admiration of girls, carry cinquefoil in your pocket
If you liked this blog then make sure to check out our other blogs on flowers and plants that are under the dominion of Jupiter.
Dietz, S. T. (2022). The complete language of flowers the complete language of flowers: A definitive and illustrated history – pocket edition. Wellfleet Press
Thiselton Dyer, T. F. (1994). Folklore of Plants. Llanerch Press.
Watts, D., & Watts, D. C. (2007). Dictionary of Plant Lore. Academic Press.