Ontario Weeds: Sulphur cinquefoil

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. For more information...

Name: Sulphur cinquefoil, Potentilla recta L.,

Other Names: Five-finger cinquefoil, Rough-fruited cinquefoil, Upright cinquefoil, Yellow cinquefoil, potentille dressée, potentille droite

Family: Rose Family (Rosaceae)

General Description: It is distinguished by its 5 to 7 leaflets palmately arranged at the end of a leafstalk like fingers from the palm of a hand, but sometimes with only 3 leaflets per leaf or the leaves not divided on the smaller flowering branches; the leaves always green on both surfaces, and the large, deep yellow to sulfur-yellow flowers with petals longer than sepals. It is similar to Rough cinquefoil in general habit and appearance but distinguished by being perennial from a coarse, fibrous root system.

Photos and Pictures

Sulphur cinquefoil (A - plant; B - flowers and leaves).
Sulphur cinquefoil (A - plant; B - flowers and leaves).

Sulphur cinquefoil

Sulphur cinquefoil

Sulphur cinquefoil. A. Plant. B. Seedling with 2 true leaves. C. Seedling with 4th leaf trifoliolate.
Sulphur cinquefoil.
A. Plant. B. Seedling with 2 true leaves. C. Seedling with 4th leaf trifoliolate.

Stems & Roots: Usually multiple-stemmed, the stems often taller (20 - 80 cm, 8 - 32 in. high);

Leaves: Green on both sides, palmately compound with usually 5 to 7 narrow, coarsely toothed, hairy leaflets at the tip of the leafstalk (petiole) (like fingers from the palm of the hand) and a pair of stipules at the base of each leafstalk; first 2 or 3 true leaves on seedling not divided.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers large, 2-2.5cm (4/5-1in.) across; petals deep yellow to sulfur-yellow, longer than the green sepals; seeds prominently wrinkly-ridged. Flowers from early June until fall.

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

Similar Species: Sulphur cinquefoil is sometimes mistaken for Marijuana (chanvre, Hemp, Cannabis, Cannabis sativa L.) because of its palmately compound leaves, but Marijuana is a much taller plant up to 1.2-3m (4-10ft.) tall, with much larger palmately compound leaves, each having 5-11leaflets, the leaflets long and slender (up to 15cm, 6in., long or even longer, and 1.5cm, 3/5in., wide) with coarse teeth, the leaf petioles without stipules, and the stems and leaves somewhat rough with very short, stiff, incurved hairs but lacking the prominent hairiness of the cinquefoils.

For more information...

... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds

... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

...on weeds in field crops, contact Mike Cowbrough (mike.cowbrough@ontario..ca), Weed Management Specialist (Field Crops), OMAFRA
...on weeds in horticultural crops, contact Kristen Callow (kristen.callow@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Hort Crops), OMAFRA

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For more information:
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