Ontario Weeds: Rough cinquefoil

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. Related Links

Name: Rough cinquefoil, Potentilla norvegica L.,

Other Names: Upright cinquefoil, Yellow cinquefoil, potentille de Norvège, potentille

Family: Rose Family (Rosaceae)

General Description: Annual, biennial or short-lived perennial, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Rough cinquefoil.

Rough cinquefoil.

Rough cinquefoil.

Rough cinquefoil.

Rough cinquefoil.

Stems & Roots: 20-50cm (8-20in.) high, usually branched, sometimes with 2 or more stems from the same root, hairy throughout.

Leaves: Alternate (1 per node), compound; 1 leaf consisting of 3 leaflets at the end of a leafstalk (petiole) and a pair of stipules at the base of the leafstalk where it joins the stem; each leaflet oblong to roundish with coarse, sharp, forward-pointed teeth; leaves in a rosette early in the growing season and, at this stage, frequently mistaken for strawberry; lower stem leaves long-stalked; uppermost leaves stalkless with the 3 leaflets and pair of stipules apparently attached directly to the stem.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers about 6mm (¼in.) across, on short stalks from leafy branches in the upper part of the plant; 5 pale yellow petals about the same length as the green sepals, a ring of many stamens around the cluster of many tiny pistils which mature into a cluster of seeds; each seed about 1mm (1/25in.) long, yellowish to pale brown and ridged lengthwise. Flowers in June and July.

Habitat: Rough cinquefoil occurs throughout Ontario in pastures, meadows, waste areas, roadsides, and occasionally in gardens and cultivated fields.

Similar Species: Rosettes of Rough cinquefoil are distinguished from strawberry plants (Fragaria spp.) by having teeth all around the margins of all 3 leaflets, whereas with strawberry the lower ¼ to 1/3 of each leaflet is usually without teeth. Older plants have robust, erect stems with several leaves and yellow flowers, whereas strawberry has a slender, short, nearly leafless stem with loose clusters of white flowers. It is distinguished from the yellow-flowered buttercups by its 3-leaflet leaves and the presence of a pair of stipules at the base of each leafstalk. Rough cinquefoil is distinguished from other cinquefoils by the combination of 3-leaflet leaves green on both surfaces, and small (6-10mm, ¼-2/5in. across), pale yellow flowers in which the sepals and petals are of about equal length.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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