Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Potentilla rivalis
brook cinquefoil, river cinquefoil

Distribution: Occurring east of the Cascades crest in Washington; British Columbia to California, east to central North America, and further east to the northeastern U.S.

Habitat: Damp soil, especially along rivers and around lakes, ponds, and swamps at low elevations.

Flowers: May-September

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Annual, Biennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Spreading to erect annual or biennial from a strong taproot and simple crown, strongly pubescent; stem freely-branched and floriferous most of the length.


Basal and lower cauline leaves mostly crowded-pinnate with 5 leaflets, the leaflets oblong-oblanceolate, coarsely serrate; upper leaves trifoliate, the leaflets narrower.


Inflorescence leafy-bracteate, many-flowered, diffuse, long-pedunculate; calyx cup-shaped, 5-10 mm. broad at flowering, enlarging in fruit, the 5 lobes ovate-triangular, erect, longer than the tubular portion but shorter than the 5 elliptic-lanceolate bracteoles; petals 5, yellow, broadly oblanceolate, rounded, half as long as the sepals; stamens mostly 10, sometimes 15; pistils numerous; styles apical, thickened at the base.


Achenes yellow, ovoid-reniform, 0.8 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Potentilla rivalis Nutt.
Publication: Fl. N. Amer. 1: 437. 1840.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Potentilla leucocarpa Rydb.
Potentilla millegrana Engelm. ex Lehm.
Potentilla pentandra Engelm.
Potentilla rivalis Nutt. var. millegrana (Engelm. ex Lehm.) S. Watson
Potentilla rivalis Nutt. var. pentandra (Engelm.) S. Watson
Tridophyllum rivale Greene.
Additional Resources:

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

WA Flora Checklist: Potentilla rivalis checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Potentilla rivalis atlas page.

CalPhotos: Potentilla rivalis photos.

USDA Plants: Potentilla rivalis information.

10 photographs:
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