Potentilla arguta (Tall Cinquefoil)

Plant Info
Also known as: Prairie Cinquefoil
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; prairies, edges of woods
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
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

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in tightly packed clusters of 2 to 6 flowers at the top of the plant. Individual flowers are ½ to ¾ inches across with 5 white to creamy colored petals, 5 sharply pointed green sepals about as long as the petals, and about 20 golden yellow stamens surrounding a golden yellow center. One plant has 1 to several clusters. Typically only a few flowers are open at a time.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 7 to 11. Most leaves are basal on long stalks, with a few leaves alternating up the stem. Leaflets are up to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, generally oval, very hairy, coarsely toothed and often double toothed. Stem leaves are smaller, have fewer than 7 leaflets and little or no stalk. Leaflets at the tip end of the leaf are largest. Stems are densely covered in light brown to whitish hairs and are a little sticky.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] The sepals fold up, creating a capsule-like container, and eventually turn dark brown. Inside are many small brown seeds.


The flowers of Tall Cinquefoil vaguely resemble those of Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), which has palmately compound leaves. There are 2 recognized subspecies of P. arguta: subsp. convallaria, a western species, and subsp. arguta, found in Minnesota and present in much of the northern half of the US and into Canada, excluding the west coast.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Wild River State Park, Chisago County.


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

Posted by: Lexi - Sherburne County
on: 2011-06-23 13:52:00

I found this in our yard. We have a wooded yard, and I found this along side our fence.

Posted by: Monique - Blue Mounds State Park
on: 2013-06-27 00:10:29

This plant is not listed in PLANTS database for Rock County, but there was lots of it on the Mound Trail in Blue Mounds State Park.

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