Potentilla recta, Sulphur Cinquefoil

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener November 13, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Potentilla recta, Sulphur Cinquefoil

Sulphur cinquefoil is an invasive perennial herb that can grow to 19.7 in. (50 cm) tall. A loose rosette of long-petiolate leaves develops first and withers before flowering. Plants can be one- or multi-stemmed. Stems are covered with long and short hairs and are unbranched (branched only in the inflorescence). Cauline (stem) leaves are palmately compound (with five to seven leaflets), stipulate, and short petioled to sessile. The central leaflet is 1.2 to 5.9 in. (3 to 15 cm) long (longer than the other leaflets). Flowering occurs from May to July, when sulfur yellow flowers develop in open, flat-topped inflorescences at the apex of the stems. Flowers have five petals, each 0.2 to 0.4 in. (6 to 9 mm) long, and 25 to 30 stamens. Fruits are small, dark brown achenes with pale veins. Sulphur cinquefoil is native to Europe and occurs in pastures, rangelands, along roadsides, and other disturbed sites.

What are invasive species and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Rosales > Rosaceae > Potentilla recta L.

Synonym(s): roughfruit cinquefoil

Potentilla recta - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

Sulphur cinquefoil - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important 

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way and place to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

 How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS.

Cooperative Extension Offices - Find your local Cooperative Extension office on this map provided by USDA.

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Plant

Sulphur cinquefoil is a perennial herb that can grow to 19.7 in. (50 cm) tall. A loose rosette of long-petiolate leaves develops first and withers before flowering. Plants can be one- or multi-stemmed. Stems are covered with long and short hairs and are unbranched (branched only in the inflorescence).

sulfur cinquefoil sulfur cinquefoil
USDA Agricultural Research Service Archive,USDA Agricultural Research Service, bugwood.org Steve Dewey, Utah State University, bugwood.org

Foliage

Cauline (stem) leaves are palmately compound (with five to seven  leaflets), stipulate, and short petioled to sessile. The central leaflet is 1.2 to 5.9 in. (3 to 15 cm) long (longer than the other leaflets).

sulfur cinquefoil sulfur cinquefoil
Ohio State Weed Lab Archive, Ohio State University, bugwood.org Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California-Davis, bugwood.org

Flower

Flowering occurs from May to July, when sulfur yellow flowers develop in open, flat-topped inflorescences at the apex of the stems. Flowers have five petals, each 0.2 to 0.4 in. (6 to 9 mm) long, and 25 to 30 stamens.

sulfur cinquefoil sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)
Montana Staewide Noxious Weed Awareness and
Education Program Archive, Montana State University, bugwood.org
Leslie J. Mehrhoff University of Connecticut, bugwood.org

Fruit

Fruits are small, dark brown achenes with pale veins.

sulfur cinquefoil sulfur cinquefoil
Ken Chamberlain, Ohio State University, bugwood.org Ken Chamberlain, Ohio State University, bugwood.org

Native Species That Can Resemble Sulphur Cinquefoil

Potentilla arguta, white cinquefoil - Images at invasive.org

white cinquefoil (Potentilla arguta) white cinquefoil (Potentilla arguta)
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, bugwood.org Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, bugwood.org

Potentilla gracilis, slender cinquefoil - Images at invasive.org

slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis) DiTomaso
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, bugwood.org Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California-Davis, bugwood.org

Additional Images for Sulphur Cinquefoil

Sulphur cinquefoil - Images at Invasive.org

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your land-grant university's college of agriculture, Cooperative Extension office, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Element Stewardship Abstract - The Nature Conservancy

Fire Effects Information System - USDA Forest Service

Sulphur cinquefoil - Missouriplants.com

Noxious Weed Control - ODA Plant Division

Alaska Natural Heritage Program - University of Alaska Anchorage

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.