Potentilla norvegica (Rough Cinquefoil)

Plant Info
Also known as: Norwegian Cinquefoil
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
  • Weedy
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flower] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] 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.

[photo of leaf stalks, stipules and stem] 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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Jac
on: 2009-07-01 14:56:57

You see alot of this out around Shakopee and Chaska

Posted by: Megan - North Minneapolis
on: 2009-07-16 17:26:01

In my backyard, growing in my chain-link fence.

Posted by: vicki - minneapolis
on: 2011-07-13 08:56:19

I found this growing in my boulevard in the east nokomis neighborhood. Read about your website today, which is great, since I was having difficulty identifying this plant.

Posted by: Nancy - Brookston, South St Louis Co
on: 2014-06-26 07:11:41

This is prolific on our sandy, partly forested, hillside property. I have been reluctant to pull it until the stem begins growing upwards in case it could be a wild strawberry.

Posted by: Jane - Cabin near Cotton, MN
on: 2015-06-29 17:52:06

This wildflower "volunteered itself" in my garden at the cabin and just bloomed so I was able to identify it! I completely agree with Nancy from Brookston that while growing I was hesitant to pull it because it looked like wild strawberry!

Posted by: Teresa Black - Golden Valley
on: 2024-05-25 12:32:15

In my front yard

Posted by: Donna - Saint Paul - Como
on: 2024-06-26 13:10:50

This popped up in my prairie garden and I wasn't sure what it was. Posted a picture on iNaturalist which identified it as cinquefoil; checked it out here to see if it's friend or foe. Perfect picture of it - erect Rough Cinquefoil, thank you! I'll be pulling it out. Due to all the rain, I've got my hands full with intentional plantings, don't need any volunteers.

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