Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Potentilla nivea
snow cinquefoil

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in northern Washington; Alaska to Washington, east to the southern Rocky Mountains to Colorado, further east to eastern North America.

Habitat: Arctic tundra and gravel bars to alpine slopes and meadows.

Flowers: June August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Sensitive in Washington (WANHP)


Grayish-woolly perennial from a branched crown and short rhizomes, the stems 3-15 cm. tall.


Leaves basal, ternate, the leaflets oblong-obovate to oval, with 7-11 teeth halfway to the mid-vein.


Inflorescence from contracted and 1- to 2-flowered to open and 3- to 9 flowered, bracteate; calyx silky, saucer-shaped, 8-12 mm. broad, the 5 lobes lanceolate, 3-4 mm. long, alternating with smaller, linear bracteoles; petals 5, yellow, obcordate, 1-2 mm. longer than the sepals; stamens 20; pistils numerous, style sub-terminal.


Achene 1-1.5 mm. long, nearly smooth.

Accepted Name:
Potentilla nivea L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 499. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Fragaria nivea Crantz
Potentilla nivea L. ssp. fallax A.E. Porsild
Potentilla nivea L. ssp. subquinata (Lange) Hultén
Potentilla nivea L. var. subquinata Lange
Potentilla nivea L. var. tomentosa Nilsson-Ehle ex Hultén
Potentilla prostrata Rottb.
Potentilla prostrata Rottb. ssp. floccosa Soják
Additional Resources:

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

WA Flora Checklist: Potentilla nivea checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Potentilla nivea atlas page.

CalPhotos: Potentilla nivea photos.

USDA Plants: Potentilla nivea information.

7 photographs:
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