Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil)

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) in the south flower bed on 5-19-19, #575-19.

Sulfur Cinquefoil, Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil, Tormentil, Upright Cinquefoil

Potentilla recta

(Potentilla recta subsp. recta)

poh-ten-TILL-uh  REK-tuh

Synonyms of Potentilla recta (3) (Updated on 5-4-22 from Plants of the World Online): Fragaria recta (L.) Crantz, Hypargyrium rectum (L.) Fourr., Pentaphyllum rectum (L.) Nieuwl.
Synonyms of Potentilla recta subsp. recta (15) (Updated on 12-16-21): Potentilla acutifolia Gilib., Potentilla erecta Maiden, Potentilla × nicolitiela Prodan, Potentilla pallens Moench, Potentilla pallida Lag. ex Besser, Potentilla pseudopilosa Porcius, Potentilla recta subsp. afra (Pau & Font Quer) Romo, Potentilla samothracica Degen ex Th.Wolf, Potentilla semilaciniosa (Borbás) Borbás, Potentilla sulphurea Lam., Potentilla sulphurea var. achtarovii Markova, Potentilla tenuirugis Pomel, Potentilla tuberosa J.Wolff, Potentilla varnensis Velen., Potentilla velenovskyi Hayek

Potentilla recta L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Sulfur Cinquefoil. The genus and species were described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Accepted Infraspecific Names (7) (Updated on 5-4-22): Potentilla recta subsp. crassa (Tausch ex Zimmeter) Jáv., Potentilla recta subsp. laciniosa (Waldst. & Kit. ex Nestl.) Nyman, Potentilla recta subsp. leucotricha (Borbás) Jáv., Potentilla recta subsp. levieri Arrigoni, Potentilla recta subsp. obscura (Willd.) Arcang., Potentilla recta subsp. pilosa (Poir.) Jáv., *Potentilla recta subsp. recta (autonym)*When infraspecific taxon are named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own synonyms except Potentilla recta subsp. levieri which was named in 2018 and so far has no synonyms.

As of 5-4-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 494 species in the Potentilla genus. It is a member of the plant family Rosaceae with a total of 109 genera. Those numbers could change periodically as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map of Potentilla recta from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. Retrieved on April 11, 2020.

The above distribution map for Potentilla recta is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the plant is native, purple where it has been introduced, and gold where doubtful. The above map also includes Potentilla recta subsp. levieri which is only found in Italy. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is a little different. The map on Flora of North America shows the species as introduced in all states. Well, no map is perfect…

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.

THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.

Potentilla recta on 6-14-20, #710-50.

Several Potentilla recta plants come up here and there every year on the farm and in the flower beds and garden.

There are A LOT of Potentilla recta here on the farm from one end to the other. While not fond of growing in the yard since it is frequently mowed, they do grow in the flower beds, garden, along fences, and around buildings. Of course, they love the pastures and hayfields. 

Potentilla recta is a native of Eurasia that made its way to North America. While the map indicates the species is found all across the United States and most of Canada, in some areas it is quite sparse, while in others it is considered a noxious weed because is has spread rampantly. The Missouri Plants website says it is “well-behaved” in Missouri then it says “if left untouched the plant can form large stands.” Hmmm… Missouri Plants also says the species has the largest and palest flowers of any cinquefoil found in Missouri. There are 8 species of Potentilla described on the Missouri Plants website.

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) on 4-29-22, #875-24.

Potentilla recta can be found in a wide variety of habits and grow in full sun to part shade. They are tolerant of damp to dry soil and are drought tolerant. They are easily recognized by their leaves and fairly large, pale yellow flowers. 

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) on 4-29-22, #875-25.

Plants can grow to around 2 1/2’ tall but are low-growing until they start to flower. The stems are round and have a combination of long and short hairs (pubescent). The appressed shorter hairs are usually gland-tipped, while the longer hairs are spreading and may have minute, pustular bases. The hairs are white and the stems are usually green but can be reddish-green or even whitish.

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) leaf with 5 leaflets on 4-29-22, #875-26.

One of the distinguishing features of Potentilla recta is its leaves. They are palmately compound with the lower leaves having 5-7 leaflets, sometimes up to 9.

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) leaf with 6 leaflets on 4-29-22, #875-27.

The leaves get smaller as they ascend up the stems, upper leaves having 3-5 leaflets. Leaves just below the flowers may only have 2 leaflets.

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) leaf with 7 leaflets on 4-29-22, #875-28.

Lower leaves have long petioles (leaf stems) while upper leaves have shorter petioles. The leaflets are sessile (no petioles) or may have short petioles, are lanceolate to oblanceolate in outline, and have rounded to bluntly pointed tips.

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) leaflet on 4-29-22, #875-29.

As the upper photo shows, the margins of the leaflets have plenty of very coarse, bluntly pointed teeth that face toward the tip (hmmm… I forgot the name for that).

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) leaf underside on 4-29-22, #875-30.

The upper surface of the leaves is fairly dark green to grayish-green while the undersurface is paler. Both surfaces are fairly hairy, especially along the veins.

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) where the petiole joins the leaflets on 4-29-22, #875-31.

The Potentilla recta is a hairy plant for sure. Stems, leaves, petioles, and peduncles are all hairy…

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) on 5-19-19, #575-20.

Potentilla recta produce many stems that are topped with clusters of pale yellow flowers. The flowers are generally subtended by foliaceous bracts. 

Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil) on 5-19-19, #575-21.

The flowers consist of a cup-shaped bright yellow receptacle (hypanthium) from which grow 5 green bractlets, 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 15-30 stamens, and numerous pistols. The 5 hairy bracts are narrow (lanceolate) while the sepals are wider (oblanceolate, deltate). They alternate with each other, overlap at the base, the bractlets lower than the sepals. The petals of the flowers on the farm are kind of a pale yellow, but they can also be bright yellow. The petals are broadly heart-shaped (obcordate to broadly ovate) and have notched tips. There are usually green bracts at the base of the peduncles (flower stems). 

Potentilla recta flowers from May through August, sometimes longer. Flowers attract a few species of wasps, flies, and small butterflies. 

Aphids feed on the sap while the larvae of certain wasp species and grasshoppers feed on the leaves. Cattle and deer occasionally eat the leaves, maybe by accident since they are grazers. The plants have a high tannin content so it wouldn’t be their favorite’s list. Any seeds eaten by birds or other animals pass through the digestive tract allowing the species to spread quite well… 

For 2022, the goal is to take close-ups of the bracts and sepals on the underside of the plant. I should also take more photos of the whole plant in bloom.

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky

 FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
TROPICOS (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF NORTH AMERICA (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
DAVE’S GARDEN
MISSOURI PLANTS
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
iNATURALIST
WILDFLOWER SEARCH
ILLINOIS WILDFLOWERS
MINNESOTA WILDFLOWERS
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON-BURKE HERBARIUM
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
PFAF(PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
GO BOTANY
FLORA FINDER
FRIENDS OF THE WILDFLOWER GARDEN
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
U.S. WILDFLOWERS
 

NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂

 

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