Potentilla norvegica (Rough Cinquefoil)
|Also known as:||Norwegian Cinquefoil|
|Life cycle:||annual, short-lived perennial|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; fields, roadsides, waste areas, disturbed soil|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to a few flowers at the top of the plant and at the end of branching stems in the upper plant. Individual flowers are yellow, 1/3 to ½ inch across with 5 oval to somewhat heart-shaped petals, and many yellow-tipped stamens surrounding the yellow center. The 5 green, sharply pointed sepals are longer than the petals.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in 3s and become progressively smaller as they ascend the stem. Leaves near the base of the plant have stalks up to 4 inches long; those near the top of the plant have little or no stalk. Leaflets are up to 3 inches long and 1½ inch wide with a rounded tip, tapering at the base, and coarse teeth. The end leaflets may be lobed in 2 or 3 parts, especially on lower leaves, but the lateral leaflets are not typically lobed.
At the base of the leaf stalk is a pair of leafy appendages (stipules) each up to 1 inch long, usually with several narrow, sharply pointed lobes or teeth. Leaves and stems are both densely covered in long hairs. A plant may have multiple stems emerging from the base. Stems are rough, often tinged red, may be erect or sprawling on the ground with the branches rising at the tip (decumbent).
There are several Potentilla species with similar, 5-petaled yellow flowers. Distinguishing features are flower size, the length of the sepals relative to the petals, and the number of leaflets. P. norvegica has 1/3 to ½-inch flowers, sepals longer than the petals, and 3 leaflets. Most similar are Bushy Cinquefoil (Potentilla paradoxa) and Brook Cinquefoil (P. rivalis), both of which have ¼-inch flowers and lower leaves with 5 or more leaflets. These species can also be distinguished by habitat. P. norvegica is something of a weedy species inhabiting disturbed, average to dry soil in a variety of habitats all across Minnesota, while the other two are far less common and typically found primarily in damp soil along lake shores and stream banks. There is some debate on whether P. norvegica is native to the US or an adventive Eurasian species. The DNR recognizes it as native in Minnesota, so we do, too.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- sprawling (decumbent) Rough Cinquefoil plant
- erect Rough Cinquefoil plant
- more flowers
- emerging plant
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?