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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Argentina egedii ssp egedii
PACIFIC SILVERWEED, SILVERWEED
syn. Potentilla anserina ssp. pacifica, Potentilla egedii var. grandis, P. egedii, Argentina pacifica and more (see notes below.)
Alaska to California.
Sunset zones: Not listed. USDA zones: 5-8.
Height: 1-2 feet (30-60 cm).
Yellow single flowers on leafless stalks.
Basal green leaves about 15 inches (40 cm) long with white-tomentose to glabrous underneath.
Full sun but will tolerate light shade.
Wet, moist soil.
Rainy Side Notes
If this plant could think and feel, it would be ripe for an identity crisis. Hortus Third lists this plant as Potentilla egedii var. grandis, while the RHS Dictionary of Gardening lists it as P. egedii. In 1840, it was listed as Potentilla anserina var. grandis, and later in 1898 as P. pacifica. Also in 1898 it is listed under the genus Argentina—A. Anserina var. grandis.
In 1908, it came to be known as A. pacifica and A. occidentalis and then was listed as A. grandis in 1915. There are enough name changes to make your head spin Linda Blair style and for the spell checker to go stark raving mad!
By the time the Handbook of Northwestern Plants was published in 1980, Helen Gilkey, Professor of Botany of Oregon State University, called it P. pacifica.
But wait, there's more! Argentina egedii, Argentina egedii ssp. egedii, Potentilla anserina ssp. egedii, Potentilla anserina var. grandis, Potentilla anserina var. lanata, Potentilla anserina var. rolandii, Potentilla egedii ssp. grandis, Potentilla egedii var. grandis, and Potentilla rolandii. It's not over yet! Taxon report number 6828 advises: "Warning: this taxon is undergoing name changes." According to the USDA Plants Database, the change is here; its name is Argentina egedii ssp egedii. Egad! We've come full circle.
The Quileute and Makah people used the root for food, prepared by steaming it and dipping it in whale oil before eating.
In the Garden
This native likes moist ground and grows prolifically along our Northwest coastal waters and east of the Cascade Mountains. However, it is equally at home in open woods, hillsides and transition zones. Often, it is found in moist meadows, marsh edges and usually not too far from the coast, sandy beaches and dunes, and from low to middle elevations. Although this argentina species can be weedy, they will colonize a wetland-riparian zone. If you have these conditions, this might be a good ground cover choice.
In the Stew
The roots have the taste of parsnips or sweet potatoes; and they are best harvested in the fall or spring when they hold the most flavors. However, it is recommended that pregnant women not consume the plant, since it is a uterine muscle stimulant.
The roots are bitter when raw; they taste best when roasted, boiled, steamed or fried. Grow it and throw it in your fall stew! You can grow it in that wet area where no respectable vegetable will grow, no fertilizing or pampering required.
Photographed near the beach in Yachats, Oregon.