A facile aqueous-phase approach for the synthesis of silver nanowires is reported, in which tannin (C76H52O46) is used as a mild reducing agent for silver nitrate. This synthesis is a root-temperature, seedless process, and does not need any surfactant or capping agent to direct the anisotropic growth of the nanoparticles. The obtained silver nanowires are about 25 nm in diameter and up to 20 μm in length. Unlike the usually reported cases of silver nanowires or nanorods, in which the silver nanocrystals were often generated with a multi-twinned structure, in our experiments the nanowires adopt a single-crystal structure with their growth direction along the  axis. Investigations on the influence of different experimental conditions indicate that slow rate of the reduction process is a key factor for inducing the anisotropic growth of the nanowires.