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Sulphur Cinquefoil

Potentilla recta

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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, Marsh Cinquefoil, 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, 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:
70 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
The flowers are in loose clusters and each flower has got 5 pale yellow or sulphur-coloured petals, up to 1.5cm across. The petals are shallowly notched at their ends. The flowers have 20 to 30 stamens and yellow anthers that reach up to 2cm in length. The petals are longer than the sepals.
The sepals fold upwards to form capsules or pods which contain several brown seeds.
A hairy perennial with alternate, palmate, long-stalked leaves. The 5 to 7 leaflets have sharply toothed edges. The leaves have stipules.
Other Names:
Erect Cinquefoil, Five-fingered Cinquefoil, Rough Cinquefoil, Rough Fruit Cinquefoil, Rough-fruited Cinquefoil, Sulfur Cinquefoil, Tall Cinquefoil.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Potentilla recta, also known as rough cinquefoil or tall cinquefoil, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family (Rosaceae). It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a perennial herb with small, yellow flowers that bloom from spring to fall. The leaves are divided into five leaflets and are hairy and dark green in color. Potentilla recta grows to a height of about 1 meter (3 feet) and has a branching habit, with stems that are rough or hairy to the touch. It is tolerant of a range of soil conditions and can be grown in sunny to partially shaded areas. It is also resistant to deer and rabbits. Potentilla recta is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and is also used in landscaping and erosion control.


Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta) is a perennial wildflower native to Europe and Asia. It is commonly found in meadows, pastures, and along roadsides. The plant is known for its yellow, five-petal flowers that bloom from June to September, making it a popular addition to wildflower gardens.

The scientific name, Potentilla recta, comes from the Latin words “potentilla” meaning “little power” and “recta” meaning “straight”, referring to the straight stem of the plant. Sulphur Cinquefoil is also known as rough cinquefoil and tormentil, and is part of the rose family (Rosaceae).

Sulphur Cinquefoil is a hardy plant, tolerating a wide range of soils and growing conditions. It prefers full sun to partial shade and is drought-tolerant, making it a great choice for xeriscaping. The plant can grow up to three feet tall and has leaves that are bright green and slightly hairy. The leaves are usually compound, consisting of five to seven leaflets.

The flowers of Sulphur Cinquefoil are yellow and about one inch in diameter. They have five petals that are slightly frilled and arranged in a star-like shape. The flowers are held on long stems, making them great for cut flower arrangements.

In addition to its ornamental value, Sulphur Cinquefoil has a number of medicinal uses. The root of the plant is used to make a tea that is said to help with digestive problems, while the leaves and stems are used to make a poultice that is applied to wounds to speed up the healing process. The plant also contains tannins, which are used to treat various skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Sulphur Cinquefoil is a hardy, attractive plant that adds color to gardens with its bright yellow flowers. Its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions and its medicinal uses make it a great choice for gardeners and nature lovers alike.

Sulphur Cinquefoil is an invasive species in some areas, particularly in North America where it was introduced from Europe. It can spread quickly, outcompeting native plants and altering ecosystem dynamics. Gardeners are encouraged to remove it from their property and avoid planting it in areas where it is considered invasive.

Despite its invasive nature, Sulphur Cinquefoil has a few positive impacts on the ecosystem. It is a food source for various insects and small mammals, including the larvae of the cinquefoil fly and the larvae of the blue hairstreak butterfly. It is also an important nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, making it a valuable addition to pollinator gardens.

When planting Sulphur Cinquefoil in a garden, it is important to consider its potential to spread. To prevent its spread, it should be planted in containers or in a designated area that can be easily managed. It is also recommended to deadhead the flowers regularly to prevent seed production.

Sulphur Cinquefoil is a beautiful plant that can add color and interest to gardens, but it should be used with caution due to its invasive nature. Gardeners are encouraged to plant it in a controlled manner and monitor its growth to prevent its spread. When used responsibly, Sulphur Cinquefoil can be a valuable addition to any garden.

Sulphur Cinquefoil is also used for erosion control, particularly on slopes and other areas prone to erosion. The plant has deep roots that help to stabilize the soil, preventing erosion and promoting healthy plant growth. It is a good choice for landscaping projects in areas with poor soil and can be used in combination with other native plants to create a diverse and sustainable landscape.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, Sulphur Cinquefoil also has a rich cultural history. In some cultures, it was believed to have magical properties and was used in spells and rituals to bring good luck and protection. The plant was also used as a symbol of love and friendship, and was often given as a gift to express affection.

Sulphur Cinquefoil is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but it does require some basic care to thrive. It should be planted in well-drained soil and should receive regular watering, particularly during dry spells. The plant can be trimmed back in late summer to encourage bushier growth, and deadheaded regularly to promote continued blooming.

In conclusion, Sulphur Cinquefoil is a versatile plant that offers a range of benefits for gardeners and the environment. Its yellow flowers, hardiness, and erosion control make it a valuable addition to gardens and landscaping projects, while its cultural history adds an interesting layer of history and tradition. With proper care, Sulphur Cinquefoil can bring color and beauty to any outdoor space for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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