Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)

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This perennial herb is a tufted plant growing from a woody taproot or caudex. It produces upright to erect leafy stems up to 80 centimeters tall. The leaves are palmate, divided into usually 6 or 7 leaflets, sometimes up to nine. The green to yellow-green leaves may be up to 15 centimeters long, with the central leaflet reaching 8 centimeters in length. The leaflets are hairy in texture and toothed along the edges. The inflorescence is a cyme of several flowers which are generally light to pale yellow in color, with white to gold-flowered individuals occurring at times. The plant may reproduce by seed or vegetatively by sprouting new shoots from its caudex.

Key Identifiers
  • Palmate leaves, 5-7 leaflets, uniformly toothed margins
  • Yellow flowers, 5 petals with distinctive notch, produced throughout the growing season
  • Hairs cover all parts of the plant except the flowers
Location in Canada
Sulphur Cinquefoil occurs from British Columbia east to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Plants are expected to be in Alberta but locations have not been confirmed.


Nicole Kimmel, ARD

Nicole Kimmel, ARD
Similar species
Slender Cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis) - mostly basal leaves, is shorter and has white wooly hair on the undersurface of leaves.
University of California, Berkeley - Slender Cinquefoil

Potentilla recta is often confused with native cinquefoils that are found in the Pacific Northwest, but can be easily distinguished by its 3 unique characteristics: 1) long, right angled hairs perpendicular to the leafstalks and stem, 2) numerous stem leaves but few basal leaves, and 3) a net-like pattern on its seed coat.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Chris Neeser.
This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on April 10, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 21, 2018.