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Marsh Cinquefoil

Potentilla palustris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, marshes, riverbanks, swamps, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Red, 5 petals
Marsh Cinquefoil presents an exquisite display of flowers characterized by delicate, deeply divided petals that form a cup-like shape. The blooms, adorned in shades ranging from pink to red, often exhibit a captivating vibrancy. Each flower, held aloft on slender stems, showcases a symmetrical arrangement of petals, contributing to its overall elegance. The textured foliage complements the floral display, adding depth and interest to this charming wetland wildflower. In the UK, during the summer months, these blossoms grace the landscapes of marshes, wet meadows, and other waterlogged habitats, creating a visually enchanting spectacle for nature enthusiasts.
The fruit of Marsh Cinquefoil is a small, rounded achene, adhering to the UK spelling conventions. These achenes typically develop after the flowering period and are often produced in clusters. Each individual achene is dry and one-seeded, featuring a subtle, earthy coloration. As the plant progresses through its life cycle, the fruits contribute to its reproductive strategy, allowing for the dispersal of seeds in the wetland habitats where Marsh Cinquefoil thrives. The achenes are a modest yet integral part of this wildflower's life cycle, contributing to its ecological role within marshes and other waterlogged ecosystems in the UK.
The leaves of Marsh Cinquefoil in the UK are distinctive and contribute to the plant's overall appearance. The compound leaves are palmately divided into five toothed leaflets, adhering to the UK spelling conventions. Each leaflet is arranged in a radial pattern, resembling the fingers of a hand. The leaflets have a textured surface, adding depth to the foliage, and are typically dark green in colour. This foliage not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the plant but also serves practical purposes, aiding in photosynthesis and contributing to the overall resilience of Marsh Cinquefoil in its wetland habitats across the UK.
Marsh Cinquefoil in the UK is not typically renowned for its fragrance. Unlike some flowers that are prized for their aromatic qualities, Marsh Cinquefoil tends to be more subtle in scent. The plant is primarily appreciated for its visual appeal, with vibrant blooms and textured foliage, rather than for any distinctive fragrance. As always, individual experiences may vary, and personal observations can provide valuable insights into the nuances of scent associated with specific specimens in their natural habitats.
Other Names:
Bog Strawberry, Bush Cinquefoil, Cowberry, Five-finger Grass, Marsh Five-finger, Meadownuts, Prairieweed, Purple Cinquefoil, Purple Marshlocks, Purplewort, Swamp Cinquefoil, Swamp Five-finger, Swamp Potentilla.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Potentilla palustris, also known as marsh cinquefoil or marsh five-finger, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family (Rosaceae). It is native to North America, where it is found in wetland habitats such as marshes, swamps, and bogs. It is a perennial herb with small, yellow flowers that bloom from mid-summer to early fall. The leaves are divided into five leaflets and are hairy and dark green in color. Potentilla palustris grows to a height of about 30 cm (12 inches) and has a creeping habit, with stems that root at the nodes and form colonies. It is tolerant of wet soil conditions and can be grown in sunny to partially shaded areas. It is also resistant to deer and rabbits.


Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris) is a beautiful and versatile herbaceous perennial plant that is widely distributed in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is also known as Swamp Cinquefoil, Swamp Five-Finger, or Five-Finger Grass.

This plant is a member of the Rosaceae family and is known for its delicate yellow flowers that bloom from June to August. The flowers are about 1 inch in diameter and have five petals, which is why it is also known as Five-Finger Grass. The leaves are compound and have five leaflets that are dark green in color. They are arranged alternately along the stem and are oval to elliptical in shape.

Marsh Cinquefoil is a plant of wet habitats, such as marshes, fens, wet meadows, and along stream banks. It is an excellent plant for water gardens, pond margins, and rain gardens. The plant can tolerate a wide range of soils and is quite hardy, making it a great choice for gardeners in many regions.

The plant is also an important food source for many species of wildlife, including insects, birds, and small mammals. For example, the flowers of Marsh Cinquefoil provide nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. The leaves and stems of the plant are also browsed by deer, rabbits, and other herbivores.

In the garden, Marsh Cinquefoil is a great plant for a variety of uses. It is ideal for mass plantings, for use as a specimen plant, or for naturalizing along the edge of a pond or stream. It is also a great choice for rain gardens, as it helps to filter runoff and reduce erosion.

Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris) is a beautiful, versatile, and hardy plant that is well-suited for a variety of garden uses. With its yellow flowers, delicate foliage, and ability to thrive in wet habitats, it is an excellent choice for gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological values, Marsh Cinquefoil has also been used for medicinal purposes by many indigenous cultures. The roots and leaves of the plant contain tannins, which have astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Infusions and decoctions made from the plant have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, digestive problems, and respiratory infections.

The plant is also used in traditional herbal medicine systems, such as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. In these systems, it is believed to have cooling and calming properties, and is often used to treat conditions related to heat, such as fevers and skin rashes.

When growing Marsh Cinquefoil, it is important to provide it with moist, well-drained soil, and partial to full sun. In areas with hot, dry summers, some shade may be beneficial. The plant can be propagated by dividing the roots, or by seed. It is a low maintenance plant and requires little care once established.

Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris) is a versatile plant with a variety of uses, from ornamental to medicinal to ecological. Its ability to thrive in wet habitats, its beautiful yellow flowers, and its importance as a food source for wildlife make it a great choice for any gardener or nature enthusiast.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Marsh Cinquefoil has also been used for food. In some cultures, the leaves of the plant have been cooked and used as a vegetable, while the roots have been dried and used as a substitute for coffee or tea.

The plant is also a valuable food source for livestock, particularly in wet habitats where other forage plants may not be available. The leaves and stems of Marsh Cinquefoil are high in protein and provide valuable nutrition for animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats.

In terms of conservation, Marsh Cinquefoil is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as it is widely distributed and abundant in many regions. However, in some areas, the loss of wetland habitats due to development or other human activities has led to declines in the populations of this and other wetland-dependent species.

In conclusion, Marsh Cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris) is a plant with many valuable uses, from ornamental to medicinal to food. Its ability to thrive in wet habitats, its delicate yellow flowers, and its importance as a food source for both wildlife and livestock make it a valuable species to have in any garden or ecosystem. Conservation efforts to protect wetland habitats will help to ensure the continued survival of this and other wetland-dependent species.

30 Facts About Marsh Cinquefoil

  1. Elegant Bloom: Marsh Cinquefoil, scientifically known as Potentilla palustris, graces wetlands and marshy habitats with its elegant and vibrant blooms.

  2. Ravishing Colors: This wildflower boasts a spectrum of colors, including shades of pink, red, and sometimes even a hint of orange, creating a picturesque display.

  3. Butterfly Magnet: Marsh Cinquefoil is a pollinator's paradise, attracting butterflies with its sweet nectar and providing a delightful scene of fluttering wings in the summer air.

  4. Water's Edge Beauty: Often found at the water's edge, Marsh Cinquefoil's reflection in still waters creates a mirror-like enchantment, enhancing the visual allure of wetland landscapes.

  5. Hardy Survivor: Adaptable to varying soil conditions, Marsh Cinquefoil is a hardy survivor, showcasing resilience in the face of changing environmental factors.

  6. Botanical Treasure: Considered a botanical treasure, this wildflower contributes to the biodiversity of marsh ecosystems, supporting various insects and small creatures.

  7. Majestic Growth: Watch in awe as Marsh Cinquefoil sends up slender stems crowned with intricate flowers, adding a touch of majesty to the wetland scenery.

  8. Nature's Watercolor: Each petal of Marsh Cinquefoil appears as if delicately painted by nature's brush, creating a living watercolor masterpiece.

  9. Ancient Symbolism: With a history rooted in herbal medicine, Marsh Cinquefoil carries ancient symbolism, believed to possess medicinal properties and positive energies.

  10. Adorned in Raindrops: After a refreshing rain, Marsh Cinquefoil's petals are adorned with glistening raindrops, transforming the wetland into a sparkling wonderland.

  11. Wetland Guardian: Serving as a guardian of wetlands, Marsh Cinquefoil helps prevent erosion and promotes soil stability, contributing to the overall health of aquatic ecosystems.

  12. Nature's Sculpture: The unique arrangement of its leaves and petals creates a natural sculpture, showcasing the intricate artistry of evolution.

  13. Unspoken Harmony: The absence of spoken words in your video allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the unspoken harmony between Marsh Cinquefoil and its surrounding environment.

  14. Celebration of Summer: Marsh Cinquefoil's peak bloom in summer turns wetlands into a celebration of colors, marking the season with its cheerful presence.

  15. Ecological Partner: Thriving alongside other wetland plants, Marsh Cinquefoil acts as an ecological partner, forming a cooperative community that benefits the entire ecosystem.

  16. Textured Foliage: Beyond its blooms, the textured foliage of Marsh Cinquefoil adds depth and interest, inviting close inspection and admiration.

  17. Symphony in Stillness: The absence of spoken words in your video creates a silent symphony, allowing viewers to appreciate the tranquility of Marsh Cinquefoil's surroundings.

  18. Natural Fragrance: Though your video is silent, the thought of the natural fragrance that accompanies Marsh Cinquefoil's blooms can evoke a sensory experience for viewers.

  19. Macro Magic: Zooming in on the intricate details of Marsh Cinquefoil with macro photography reveals a world of beauty unseen by the naked eye.

  20. Dance of Petals: A gentle breeze sets off a dance of petals, adding a dynamic element to the video as Marsh Cinquefoil sways in rhythm with nature's breath.

  21. Conservation Ambassador: Marsh Cinquefoil can be a powerful conservation ambassador, drawing attention to the importance of preserving wetland habitats.

  22. Seasonal Drama: Witness the seasonal drama as Marsh Cinquefoil undergoes changes from bud to bloom, telling a captivating story of growth and renewal.

  23. Artistry of Nature: Filming Marsh Cinquefoil allows you to capture the artistry of nature in a way that transcends spoken language, appealing to a universal appreciation for beauty.

  24. Nocturnal Allure: Even in the quiet of the night, Marsh Cinquefoil's blooms may attract nocturnal pollinators, adding a touch of mystery to its allure.

  25. Nature's Complement: Marsh Cinquefoil is a perfect complement to any wetland landscape, enhancing the visual appeal and ecological richness of its surroundings.

  26. A Gift to Wildlife: The abundance of Marsh Cinquefoil provides a valuable food source for various wildlife, contributing to the intricate web of life in wetland ecosystems.

  27. Artful Composition: Use the silent canvas of your video to compose artful shots, highlighting the graceful curves and delicate features of Marsh Cinquefoil.

  28. Natural Meditation: The serene visuals of Marsh Cinquefoil can serve as a form of natural meditation, offering viewers a moment of calm and reflection.

  29. Mystical Aura: Surrounding Marsh Cinquefoil with a mystical aura, your video can transport viewers to a magical realm where nature's wonders unfold without the need for words.

  30. Timeless Beauty: With its timeless beauty and silent elegance, Marsh Cinquefoil becomes a captivating subject that transcends language, making it universally appealing to nature lovers worldwide.


Marsh Cinquefoil filmed at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve in Cumbria on the 8th July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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