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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

26. Rosaceae, the Rose Family

2. Potentilla L. -- Cinquefoil

5. Potentilla rivalis Nutt. -- Brook cinquefoil


Erect to spreading, hirsute, taprooted annual or biennial 1.5-9 dm tall, simple or branched from the base, branched above. Leaves mostly cauline, long-petioled below to subsessile above, palmately compound, with 3-7 leaflets, or the lower leaves closely pinnate, the leaflets obovate to elliptic or oblanceolate, 1.5-5 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm wide, coarsely serrate; stipules ovate, usually toothed, mostly 0.5-1.5 cm long. Flowers numerous in leafy, branched cymes, not showy; sepals ovate-triangular, 2.5-6 mm long, the bractlets sometimes longer; petals yellow, obovate to oblanceolate, 1-1.5(2) mm long, ca. 1/2 or less as long as the sepals; stamens 10-15; styles terminal. Achenes yellowish, ovoid-reniform, 0.6-0.8 mm long, smooth. Jun--Aug. Wet meadows, shores, ditches, stream banks and flats; frequent; (IL and MN to B.C., s to MO, TX, Mex. and CA). P. millegrana Engelm.

Potentilla biennis Greene is a similar species of moist woodlands and stream banks that has been reported for w SD. It differs from P. rivalis as follows: Averaging smaller, (1)3-6 dm tall, the stems and leaves with fine glandular hairs as well as longer eglandular hairs; leaves all 3-foliate; calyx mealy-glandular.

GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


Previous Species -- Potentilla paradoxa Nutt. ex Torr. & Gray -- Bushy cinquefoil
Return to Family -- Rosaceae - The Rose Family
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