Potentilla simplex (Common Cinquefoil)
|Also known as:
|part shade, sun; open woods, old fields, meadows
|May - July
|6 to 24 inch creeper
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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A single flower is at the end of a long naked stalk that arises from a leaf node. Flowers average about ½ inch across with 5 yellow heart-shaped petals, numerous yellow-tipped stamens that turn red with age, and 5 green pointed-tipped sepals that are shorter than the petals. One plant typically has a few to several flowers.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are palmately compound in groups of 5, alternately attached and tend to be widely spaced on the stem. Leaflets are up to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, rounded at the tip, tapering at the base, with the middle leaflet largest and the end pair smallest. There are large sharply pointed teeth around the edges except at the base, and the underside is hairy to varying degrees. Stems are also hairy to varying degrees and turn from green to red with age.
Common Cinquefoil is a branching, sprawling plant that is typically low to the ground, rarely reaching a foot tall, and can reroot where the leaf nodes touch the ground, creating dense patches. There are several cinquefoil species, with similar flowers. Distinguishing features are the length of the sepals relative to the petals, and the number of leaflets and their arrangement. Common Cinquefoil has sepals shorter than the petals, and 5 leaflets palmately compound.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
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