Potentilla hippiana (Woolly Cinquefoil)
|Also known as:
|sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; prairies, plains, meadows, forest, tundra
|June - July
|4 to 20 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Branching cluster at the top of the stem. Flowers are yellow, about ½ inch across, with 5 broad petals that are tapered at the base and rounded, straight across, or slightly depressed at the tip. In the center are about 20 yellow stamens.
The calyx cupping the flowers has 5 triangular to lance-shaped, sharply pointed sepals that are somewhat shorter than the petals. Behind each petal, alternating with the sepals, is a narrowly lance-elliptic bractlet shorter than the sepals. The calyx and flower stalks are covered in woolly hairs.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are mostly basal, pinnately compound with 7 to 13 leaflets, on stalks 1 to 4+ inches (1 to 10+ cm) long. Leaflets are oblong-elliptic in outline, ¾ to 2 inches (to 5 cm) long, the edges with a few to several large teeth or shallow lobes cut usually less than halfway to the midvein. The lowest leaflets are smallest, becoming larger as they ascend the stalk. The 1 to 3 stem leaves are much smaller, the uppermost stalkless or nearly so.
The upper surface is gray-green with long, appressed, silky hairs; the lower surface silvery from dense woolly hairs. Stems are multiple from the base, erect to ascending to spreading, unbranched except in the flower clusters, covered in woolly hairs, and 2 to 4 times as long as the basal leaves.
Woolly Cinquefoil is primarily a species of alpine meadows, mixed conifer forests, aspen stands and grassy slopes, common in the Rocky Mountains with scattered populations in the Great Plains. Minnesota sits on the eastern edge of its range and populations east of here are likely introduced. The handful of state records are all from a small area in Polk County, northwest of Fertile, the first of which dates back to 1900. It still persists in the area, though populations are small. The flowers resemble those of other yellow-flowered Potentilla species, but the leaves are pretty distinctive and should not be confused with the others.
While Potentilla hippiana may indeed be rare in Minnesota, it is only tracked by the DNR due to insufficient information and is not on the official rare species list (yet).
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- Woolly Cinquefoil plant
- Woolly Cinquefoil plant ©Barry Breckling
- leaves are mostly basal
- Woolly Cinquefoil habitat
- flower cluster
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?