Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Rosales - Family: Rosaceae
Trailing Tormentil is very like Tormentil, a more upright and robust plant which is an indicator of acid soil.
Trailing Tormentil has tiny flowers, usually 1.3cm to 1.8cm across (slightly larger on average, therefore, than the flowers of the more common and upright Tormentil) and the colour of buttercups. Its leaves have three or four leaflets. The flowers of Trailing Tormentil have four or occasionally five petals, and the sprawling growth form is similar to that of Creeping Cinquefoil, but the latter has leaves with five leafets.
This wildflower is most common in Wales and western England, becoming increasingly scarce further north and in Ireland; it is absent from northern Scotland. Trailing Tormentil is recorded also across much of western and central Europe.
Trailing Tormentil grows in acid-soil areas, mainly on grassy roadside verges, wasteland and car park edgesas well as in some churchyards.
In Britain you can see these pretty little summer wildflowers from June right through until the end of September.
As with other Potentilla species, the high tannin content of this plant has been exploited in herbal medicines. The roots have also been used in the past to produce a dye for reddening leather. Tormentil Red, as the dye is called, was also the basis of a red ink.
Potentilla, the genus name, means 'powerful, despite its small size' and is a reference to the claimed medicinal value of plants in this genus. The specific epithet anglica means of or from England.
Tormentil Potentilla erecta is a more robust, upright plant with four-petalled flowers but otherwise very similar to Trailing Tormentil.
Creeping Cinquefoil Potentilla reptans is similar but its flowers have five petals.
Silverweed Potentilla anserina has larger yellow flowers with five petals; its leaves are not palmate.
The Trailing Tormentil plants shown on this page were photographed in West Wales during July.