Potentilla recta (Sulphur Cinquefoil)

Plant Info
Also known as: Rough-fruited Cinquefoil
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; fields, prairies, along roads
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:12 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
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 Cluster type: flat Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in loose clusters at the top of the plant and the end of stems branching near the top of the plant. Individual flowers are about ¾ inch across with 5 pale yellow heart-shaped petals that have a smudge of brighter yellow at the base. There are numerous yellow stamens with yellowish brown tips surrounding the bright yellow center.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are palmately compound in groups of 3 to 7; leaves at the base of the plant have long stalks and more leaflets, those near the top are smaller, have 3 leaflets and are stalkless. Leaflets are rounded at the tip, tapering at the base, strongly toothed, hairy, up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide with the middle leaflet largest. Stems and leaf stalks are covered in long white hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The sepals fold up creating a capsule-like container. Inside are numerous brown seeds.


Sulphur Cinquefoil is easily identified by its pale yellow flowers and palmate leaves. The flowers vaguely resemble Tall Cinquefoil (Potentilla arguta), but its flowers are white and its leaves are pinnately compound rather than palmate.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Dianne - Dakota County
on: 2009-07-12 22:04:04

This plant grows in southern Dakota county, MN. Seen in July 2009 in a farming area growing in partial shade. Photo available.

Posted by: Ann - Edina
on: 2011-07-02 18:40:29

I have seen only one plant along the path in Walnut Ridge Park which is near a swampy area which the north branch of Nine Mile Creek runs through.

Posted by: Alan - Brainerd
on: 2011-07-04 17:08:00

We have several of these plants now blooming in our wild flower meadow. Full sun.

Posted by: Denis - Palmer Twsp., Sherburne Co.
on: 2012-06-15 16:47:55

I have quite a lot of Cinquefoil that looks like this except that the flower is always yellow. In Fassett's, SPRING FLORA OF WISCONSIN, Potentilla recta is the only plant that has the leaf structure.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-06-15 17:07:23

Denis, perhaps what you have is Potentilla simplex, common cinquefoil. The flowers are bright yellow and leaves have a similar structure, though it is more of a sprawling plant, not erect like P. recta.

Posted by: Jessica - Father Hennipen State Park
on: 2012-07-07 21:02:04

I have seen these in full sun on the side of the road in father hennipen park, they are very pretty

Posted by: Monique - Blue Mounds State Park
on: 2013-06-27 00:15:58

Saw them today at Blue Mounds State Park. They were different from P. arguta, also seen today, by the color of the flower, shorter height, and palmate leaves.

Posted by: Jared - Washington county, stillwater
on: 2013-10-12 22:24:56

There is some of this cinquefoil growing in the woods behind the highschool.

Posted by: Alan - Harris, Chisago County
on: 2014-06-29 17:26:47

Hayfield of a church west of I-35 Harris exit.

Posted by: Ann - Todd County
on: 2015-06-29 10:13:24

We have this plant in our pastures and grassland. Round Prairie Township.

Posted by: Elaine - Southern Isanti County
on: 2016-06-15 13:56:27

We have a quite a few of these flowering right now in our open grass areas.

Posted by: Terry - Glendalough State Park
on: 2016-06-23 08:31:31

Many blooming now in Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake. I love the heart shaped petals! Disappointed to see it is not native :(

Posted by: Harvey - Norris Camp, Lake of the Woods County
on: 2016-08-26 12:03:21

It was growing in a young jack pine stand.

Posted by: Wanda - Chisago County
on: 2017-06-21 20:53:41

Found just a couple blooms on our property in Chisago City....edge of woods; full sun.

Posted by: Stuart S - Cook County
on: 2017-06-27 14:42:31

Barker Lake Rd. Near bridge

Posted by: Sharon L Adams - NORTH BRANCH
on: 2018-07-03 17:43:26

Next to walking trail on Falcon Avenue in North Branch between 383rd St and 381st Lane.

Posted by: Bruce D. Anderson - 3 miles from Chisago City
on: 2018-07-05 15:39:11

Found scattered plants in hay field 3 miles NW of Chisago City. It was disheartening to find this. I spent much of my Forest Service career managing this invasive plant in central Idaho wilderness areas. I observed diverse native stands of canyon grasslands completely displaced by sulphur cinquefoil.

Posted by: Angela - City of Isanti
on: 2019-06-28 16:10:27

Found growing under a Maple Amur in our backyard.

Posted by: Renee Loehr - Todd County, Grey Eagle Township, roadside powerline ROW
on: 2019-07-05 07:06:40

Pale yellow

Posted by: William Brown - Grant
on: 2020-01-04 18:38:46

I have this in my open oak woodland.

Posted by: Julie McDevitt - Lake City
on: 2020-06-14 16:56:37

We walk The Jewel Golf Community daily during the summer and have been learning our Minnesota wildflowers. Today, June 14th, is the first day we noticed Sulfur Cinquefoil mixed in with copious bird's foot trefoil. It's in full sun.

Posted by: Timothy Buchholtz - Rochester - Olmsted County
on: 2020-06-15 16:42:15

I spotted one plant next to a stream in a nature preserve within the city limits. While I see this flower is not native it is striking and quite lovely.

Posted by: Dawn - St. Paul - Ramsey Co.
on: 2021-06-15 22:02:00

I have this that popped up in my tower bed. I'm struggling to find info on how it spreads tho and if it's aggressive.

Posted by: Nadine - Kanabec county
on: 2021-08-30 05:48:41

Started small at end of driveway. Now almost 20" tall. Blooms are very delicate looking.

Posted by: Christa - Lake Bemidji State Park
on: 2022-07-14 09:16:37

I found this flower along the campground road at Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji, MN. I have photos to verify.

Posted by: Terry O'Brien - Itasca County, North of Deer River
on: 2022-07-17 14:33:00

At edge of hay field

Posted by: Penny - Blackhoof township, Carlton County
on: 2022-07-27 16:58:10

In my once upon a time hay field. Now letting this field revert back to nature.

Posted by: Rachel Russ - Underwood
on: 2023-05-31 02:50:00

We have this plant growing on the edge of a wood patch of maples but in full sun. It has nice flowers and the butterflies visit it often. Looking forward to seeing it fruit.

Posted by: Kimberly Bennett - Carlton
on: 2023-07-20 17:29:14

Just found a bunch on top of my sister's meadow in Carlton..

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