slender cinquefoil

(Potentilla gracilis)



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Slender cinquefoil, also called graceful cinquefoil, is a low-growing, herbaceous perennial. It occurs in the United States west of the Great Plains and across the Upper Midwest as far east as Minnesota. It also occurs across southern Canada and north along the Rocky Mountains into Alaska. It is uncommon in Minnesota.

Slender cinquefoilis found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, open woods, and rocky slopes.


Slender cinquefoil is a popular garden ornamental due to its attractive foliage and flowers and its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions.


Slender cinquefoil is a highly variable species, resulting in fifteen varieties an one subspecies haing being described. Six varieties are currently recognized, three of which occur in Minnesota.

Slender cinquefoil is an ascending to erect, perennial forb that rises on usually several stems from a thick, branched caudex.

The stems are slender, hairy, reddish, and branched.

The leaves are compound, with 5-7 leaflets. Each leaflet is oval to lance-shaped, 1-3 cm long, and 0.5-2 cm wide. The upper surface is dark green and the lower surface is pale green. The margins are deeply toothed.

The inflorescence is a flattened, open, branched cluster of many flowers at the end of the stem. The flowers bloom from May to August.

Each flower has 5 yellow petals and is 1-2 cm in diameter.

The fruit is small, dry, single-seeded capsule (achene).


Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  


Rosaceae (rose)  
  Subfamily Rosoideae (brambles, roses, strawberries, and allies)  
  Tribe Potentilleae (strawberries, cinquefoils, and allies)  
  Subtribe Potentillinae (cinquefoil)  


Potentilla (cinquefoils)  

Subordinate Taxa


combleaf cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. elmeri)

fanleaf cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. flabelliformis)

graceful cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. gracilis)

northwest cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. fastigiata)

Owyhee cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. owyheensis)

slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis var. brunnescens)


Common names of the varieties of Potentilla gracilis are used inconsistently, sometimes seeming randomly shuffled. The common name usage for the varieties of Potentilla gracilis on follows ITIS.






Common Names


graceful cinquefoil

northwest cinquefoil

slender cinquefoil











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  Potentilla gracilis
Matt Lavin
  Potentilla gracilis  

Fruit: multiple achenes. Similar to P. recta but a native species with generally ascending stems that do not bear many stem leaves and with well-developed long-petiolate basal leaves. Perennial herb with erect to ascending stems 10-60 cm long, mountain meadows and grasslands, as well as mountain big sagebrush steppe.




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