Cinquefoils have flowers that grow either single or several in mostly open clusters, with bracts at the bases of branches or flowers. The calyx have 5 lobes which are spreading or bent back, alternating with 5, usually narrower and shorter bracteoles. There are 5 petals, usually yellow, sometimes whitish, often broad and showy, the flowers often resembling buttercups. However, buttercups don't have bracteoles, neither do they have stipules at the leaf bases, as the cinquefoils do. The flowers usually have 10-30 stamens, in one or more rings around the numerous pistils. The fruits are small achenes. The plants are annual or perennial, often with well-developed rootstocks, the leaves are pinnately to palmately compound, toothed to dissected, alternate, and often basal as well, with stipules at the leaf bases. The genus contains possibly 200 species of the Northern Hemisphere, mainly in the Temperate Zone, also north into the Arctic, and many are montane plants. The name Potentilla comes from the Latin potens, powerful, in reference to supposed medicinal properties of some of the species. Several species are cultivated for ornamental purposes.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Potentilla
BASAL LEAVES PALMATE. INTRODUCED PLANTS, DISTURBED AREAS
P. argentea Silver Cinquefoil Stems short-grayish-woolly, 15-30 cm tall. Dry areas.
Flowers c. 15 mm wide. Sepals flat-hairy, petals not touching.
Leaves gray-woolly beneath, the 5 leaflets toothed, 1-2 cm long.
P. recta Sulphur Cinquefoil Plant 30-80 cm tall, very leafy, branched on upper parts. Weed.
Flowers pale yellow. Petals heart-shaped, 9-12 mm long.
Leaves several on stems, divided into 5-7 leaflets, saw-toothed.