Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Potentilla recta
sulphur cinquefoil

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, but not in Yukon Territory, east across North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Roadsides, fields, trails, and disturbed ground.

Flowers: June-August

Origin: Introduced

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Hairy perennial from woody base but without rhizomes, the few stems erect, branched, very leafy, 3-8 dm. tall; cauline leaves often appressed to stem by erect petioles.


Leaves 5-7 palmately divided, the leaflets oblanceolate, strongly veined, 3-7 cm. long, serrate nearly halfway to the mid-vein; stipules 1-2 cm. long, lanceolate, laciniate above.


Inflorescence many-flowered, flat-topped, leafy-bracteate; calyx cup-shaped, up to 12 mm. broad, the 5 lobes strongly veined, pointed, 5-9 mm. long; petals 5, yellow, obovate, with a shallow notch at the tip, up to 3 mm. longer than the sepals; stamens usually 25; pistils numerous, style sub-terminal.


Achene strongly veined, brownish-purple, 1 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Potentilla recta L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 497. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Hypargyrium rectum Fourr.
Potentilla recta L. var. obscura (Nestler) W.D.J. Koch
Potentilla recta L. var. pilosa (Willd.) Ledeb.
Potentilla recta L. var. sulphurea (Lam. & DC.) Peyr.
Potentilla sulphurea Lam.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Potentilla recta in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Potentilla recta checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Potentilla recta atlas page.

CalPhotos: Potentilla recta photos.

USDA Plants: Potentilla recta information.

32 photographs:
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