Norwegian cinquefoil – Potentilla norvegica

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Alaska Wildflowers | Yellow

Norwegian cinquefoil – Potentilla norvegica

Norwegian cinquefoil

Potentilla norvegica

Alt. Names:
Rough cinquefoil
Ternate-leaved cinquefoil
Snowy cinquefoil
Upright cinquefoil
Yellow cinquefoil

Genus: Potentilla (cinquefoil)
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Order: Rosales
See full scientific classification

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Duration: Annual, Biennial, Perennial

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Uses: (Uses given here are for information only, often historical. I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of information contained here.) Some documented use by Native Americans of chewing the root of Norwegian cinquefoil or creating a decoction of the root to gargle to help with a sore throat. Also records of use by the Navajo of cold infusion of the whole plant for pain.

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Identification and Information

Norwegian cinquefoil is a widely distributed annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial that grows between 20 – 50 cm (8 – 20 in) in height. The stems have hairs at the base and become woody on older plants. The stalked leaves have 3-5 leaflets that can be sparsely or abundantly distributed from plant to plant. The terminal leaflets are trifoliate (ternate), lance-shaped, very toothed, and may be hairy. The leaves are deeply veined. Basal leaves are not divided. It has a simple, vertical taproot and spreads by seed.

Each plant may have between 5 and 40 flowers. The flowers have 5 rounded, yellow petals and are between 4 – 8 mm (0.15 – 0.3 in) diameter. Each petal is between 3 – 5 mm in length. The flowers sit on a larger pedicel approximately 0.5 – 2.5 cm (0.2 – 1 in) in diameter.

Distribution and Habitat

Potentilla norvegica is native to most of North America, including Alaska, Canada, and much of the lower 48, and most of Europe and Asia. It can be found in numerous habitats, including moist meadows, the banks of streams and lakes, roadsides, grasslands, tundra, and woodlands. Norwegian cinquefoil usually needs full to partial sun.

Potentilla norvegica – Classification

RankScientific Name and (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (Plant)
SubkingdomTracheobionta (Vascular plants)
SuperdivisionSpermatophyta (Seed plants)
DivisionMagnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
FamilyRosaceae (Rose family)
GenusPotentilla L. (cinquefoil)
SpeciesPotentilla norvegica L. (Norwegian cinquefoil)

References and Further Reading

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 37
Potentilla norvegica ssp. monspeliensis (L.) Aschers. & Graebn., Native American Ethnobotany
Potentilla norvegica  L., ITIS Database
Potentilla norvegica L. Norwegian cinquefoil, USDA Database
13. Potentilla norvegica Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 499. 1753., Flora of North America
Potentilla norvegica – L., Plants For A Future –
Rough Cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica), Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide (OSU.EDU)

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