Drymocallis 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 Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in tightly packed clusters of 2 to 6 flowers at the tips of branching stems 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. 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 with 7 to 11 leaflets. 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 erect, usually single, unbranched except in the flower clusters, and a little sticky from a dense covering of glandular hairs.

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 old fruiting stems can persist through winter.


The flowers of Tall Cinquefoil vaguely resemble those of Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), which has palmately compound leaves. This species was formerly known as Potentilla arguta with 2 varieties/subspecies, both of which are now separate species of Drymocallis. D. arguta is the only Drymocallis species found east of the Rocky Mountains.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Chisago and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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.

Posted by: Sara S - Lac qui Parle county
on: 2019-06-20 12:16:34

Found this in the Florida Creek Wildlife Management Area. It's definite Tall Cinquefoil but has 6 petals and 6 green sepals. Is this common? Or perhaps a different variety?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-06-20 18:28:00

Sara, many plant species occasionally throw out atypical plants, such as double flowers, white flowers that are normally pink or blue, etc. It's just a one-off natural variation, not likely a different (sub)species. That's assuming your ID is correct. I have no idea what causes it other than a random mutation that may or may not persist to its offspring.

Posted by: Kristi Bolstad - Hub b and County
on: 2022-07-07 16:17:31

Seeing this for the first time this summer in our meadow by the lake. Soil very sandy, mostly sunny.

Posted by: gary - Moose Lake in Charlton County
on: 2022-08-03 08:46:35

Several plants along the Munger Trail.

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