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 Potentilla subsp. var.  
Potentilla sterilis leaves
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
Width: to
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Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
Lifespan: perennial, annual, biennial
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Rosaceae > Potentilla var. , L.

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Potentilla is a genus of about 500 species of annual, biennial and perennial herbs in the rose family Rosaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include cinquefoil, tormentil, and barren strawberry.

Many of the species have leaves divided into five leaflets arranged palmately (like the fingers of a hand), whence the name cinquefoil (French, cinque feuilles, "five leaves"), though some species (e.g. P. sterilis) have just three leaflets, and others (e.g. P. anserina) up to 15 or more leaflets arranged pinnately. The leaves of some cinquefoils are eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Potentilla.

Recent genetic research has resulted in a number of changes to the circumscription of Potentilla (Eriksson et al., 2003).

The genera Duchesnea, Horkelia, and Ivesia, previously all regarded as distinct, have been shown to be members of Potentilla, though this change has not been universally adopted.

Conversely, the shrubby plant previously included in this genus as Potentilla fruticosa, does not to belong to Potentilla at all, and is now treated in the genus Dasiphora as Dasiphora fruticosa.

The two species formerly treated as Potentilla palustris and Potentilla salesowianum are now separated into the genus Comarum, while Potentilla tridentata is transferred to Sibbaldiopsis as Sibbaldiopsis tridentata, and Potentilla arguta is similarly now separated into the genus Drymocallis as Drymocallis arguta.

The silverweeds are also separable into the new genus Argentina, though these are closer to the typical species of Potentilla, and this separation is less well supported.

Potentilla is also related to the genera Geum and Dryas, and also to the strawberries in the genus Fragaria; Potentilla differs from the strawberries in having dry, inedible fruit (hence the name "barren strawberry" for some species).

Some species are grown as garden plants.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Potentilla (diminutive of Latin potens, powerful; referring to the medicinal properties). Rosaceae. Cinquefoil. Five-finger. A large group of perennial, rarely annual, herbs and shrubs found throughout the North Temperate and frigid zones; somewhat planted.

Leaves compound: appendages of the calyx 5, borne at the base of the 5 sepals, which in turn are borne upon the edge of a cup-shaped, dry receptacle; stamens 10-30, together with the 5 rounded petals inserted upon the margin of the receptacle (perigynous) ; pistils many, in fr. becoming minute achenes; style deciduous. Those in cultivation are all hardy perennial plants suitable for border planting. The most valuable dou- ble-fld. forms are hybrids. Monograph by T. Wolf, Bibliot. Bot. Heft 71:1908.

The American potentillas are generally rather unattractive plants with small flowers. They are, as a rule, very tenacious of life and do well with ordinary care. P. fruticosa, a handsome and distinct low shrub, prefers moist positions, but will grow in even very dry soil. When thoroughly established in moist soil, it is difficult to eradicate. P. argentea should be given a dry soil, preferably about rocks. It is tenacious of life and is rather attractive. P. Hippiana, a western species with comparatively large foliage of decided gray color, is hardy East. It is a good perennial, preferring dryish

soil. P. tridentata is an attractive evergreen species forming thick mats. It does well in any fairly rich soil in open or partially shaded positions. Potentillas are propagated by division or seed, the hybrids only by division. P. fruticosa may be increased by greenwood cuttings. (F. W. Barclay.)

Hybrid potentillas (Fig. 3157) have nearly all the good qualities in a border plant, handsome foliage and free-blooming habit. They continue in bloom from spring until autumn, although most profusely in June and July. They cannot be said to be reliably hardy in the latitude of Boston, probably not above Washington. They do not grow over 2 feet and seldom need staking. A heavy soil suits them best. Choice varieties are propagated by division of the rootstock in spring: cuttings will not root. They run mostly in shades of maroon, scarlet, and orange, often beautifully banded with yellow. They bear seed freely, and when carefully hybridized one may get a very fine strain with a good proportion of double blooms. Seedlings bloom the second year. Some of the species make neat rock-plants, especially P. tridentata, P. verna. and P. argentea, the last, though common, is valuable in places in which other plants will not grow. (T. D. Hatfield.)


alba, 9. formosa, 15. palustris. 3. albicans, 1 Friedricksenii, 1. pyrenaica, 25. alpestris, 27. fruticosa, 1. recta, 22. ambigua, 5. glandulosa, 12. rupestris, 10. Anserina, 31. Gordonii, 33. Salcsoviana, 2. argentea, 21. gracilis, 14. speciosa, 7. arguta, 11. grandiflora, 24. sulphurea, 22. argyrophylla, 18. haematochrus, 17. Thurberi, 10. atrosanguinea, 19. Hippiana, 13. Tongusi, 15. calabra, 21. insignis, 18. tridentata, 4. canadensis, 30. laciniata, 23. Veitchii, 1. cinerea, 29. laciniosa, 23. verna, 28. dahurica, 1. nepalensis, 15. villosa, 20. dubia, 26. nitida, 8. Vilmoriniana, 1. eriocarpa, 6. pacifica, 32.

Following are some of the hybrid potentillas, the exact botanical status of which has not been worked out and which have not been standardized as to nomenclature: P. bicolor (P. argyrophylla X P. atrosanguinea, according to Wolf), orange and vermilion. P. cardinale (P. atrosaniguinea X P. nepalensis, according to Wolf), brilliant cardinal. Dr. Andre, golden yellow suffused with vermilion. Eldorado, purple suffused with yellow. Emile, bright bronay red. Gloire de Nancy, golden yellow. Hamlet, dark carmine. P. Hopwoodiana (P. nepalenais X P. recta, according to Wolf). Lfts. 5-6: petals at base deep rose, at center pale rose, margine whitish. P. hybrida, name applied to various hybrids. R.H. 1890, p. 305. Gn. 16:402; 25:514. Jeane Salter, orange, shaded scarlet. Le Vesuve, floriferous. light red margined with yellow or scarlet. P. Mac Nabiana (P. argyrophylla X P. atrosanguinea, according to Wolf). Mars, dark velvety red.M. Daudin, beautiful amber. O'Briana, pink and salmon. P. perfecta, maroon, shaded lemon. P. purpurea, deep purple. P. versicolor, carmine- and yellow- flaked.— Victor Lemoine, light red striped with yellow. W m. Rollinson, mahogany-brown, suffused with orange. The status of the following trade names cannot be determined: P. amaena, P. caucasicum, P. concolor, P. lanuginosa, P. minima, P.nessensis . P.splendens. K M Wiegand.

Section I. Trichocarpae. Carpels completely or in part pilose (except P. palustris): receptacle long- and dense-pilose. Subsection A. Rhopalostylae . Style clavate.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


About 500, including:

Previously included species

ra fruticosa]] Shrubby Cinquefoil


  • w:Potentilla. Some of the material on this page may be from Wikipedia, under the Creative Commons license.
  • Potentilla QR Code (Size 50, 100, 200, 500)
  • Eriksson, T., Hibbs, M. S., Yoder, A. D. Delwiche, C. F. & Donoghue, M. J. (2003). The Phylogeny of Rosoideae. Int. J. Plant Sci. 164(2): 197–211. Available online (pdf file)

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