rough cinquefoil

(Potentilla norvegica)

Conservation Status
rough cinquefoil
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Rough cinquefoil is a 1 to 3 tall, erect, annual to short-lived perennial forb that rises on multiple stems from a shallow, branching taproot. In the spring basal leaves form a rosette close to the ground.

The stems are erect or spreading, stout, branching, leafy, and covered with coarse, stiff hairs. They are green when young, becoming dark red in strong sun.

Basal leaves are on long, hairy stalks. The are divided into 3 leaflets. The leaflets are hairy, elliptic to egg-shaped, up to 2 long and 1 wide. The margins have coarse, rounded teeth around the entire margin, including near the base. The terminal leaflet is on a distinct stalk up to ¼ long.

Stem leaves are similar to basal leaves, but are smaller and have shorter leaf stalks. They become smaller as they ascend the stem.

The inflorescence is terminal clusters at the end of branches and individual flowers on short, hairy stalks arising from some of the leaf axils.

The flowers are to ½ wide. The 5 petals are yellow, rounded at the base, flattened at the broad tip, with a shallow notch at the tip.The 5 green sepals are longer than the petals and alternate with the petals. The 5 bractlets are dark green and about as long as the sepals when the flower is fully open. They alternate with the sepals and are visible below the petals when the flower is viewed from above. There are 10 to 20 yellow stamens. There is no floral scent.




1 to 3


Flower Color




Similar Species


In the spring the plant forms a rosette close to the ground, which may be confused with common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) or woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca var. americana). However, the leaves of rough cinquefoil tend to be toothed around the entire margin, while the leaves of the strawberries tend to be untoothed near the base. Both of the strawberries are low and prostrate on the ground when mature, and have white flowers.

Silvery cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea var. argentea) has larger flowers. The leaves are distinctly lobed and are white and woolly underneath.

Sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) branches only above where the flower stems begin to appear. The flowers are pale yellow and larger. The flower petals are longer than the sepals between them.


Dry. Fields, meadows, pastures, roadsides. Full or partial sun.




June to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  


Rosaceae (rose)  
  Subfamily Rosoideae (brambles, roses, strawberries, and allies)  
  Tribe Potentilleae (strawberries, cinquefoils, and allies)  
  Subtribe Potentillinae (cinquefoil)  


Potentilla (cinquefoils)  

Subordinate Taxa






Potentilla monspeliensis

Potentilla norvegica ssp. hirsuta

Potentilla norvegica var. hirsuta

Potentilla norvegica var. labradorica

Potentilla norvegica ssp. monspeliensis


Common Names


Norway cinquefoil

Norwegian cinquefoil

rough cinquefoil


tall five-finger

upright cinquefoil

yellow cinquefoil













The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



A small, often secondary bract within an inflorescence; a bract that is borne on a petiole instead of subtending it.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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    rough cinquefoil      


    rough cinquefoil flower with Hoverfly   rough cinquefoil  


    rough cinquefoil      


    rough cinquefoil leaf      


    rough cinquefoil      



  Potentilla norvegica NORWAY CINQUEFOIL
Frank Mayfield
  Potentilla norvegica NORWAY CINQUEFOIL  



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