Oneflower cinquefoil – Potentilla uniflora

Alaska Wildflowers | Yellow

Yellow flowers of the oneflower cinquefoil (Potentilla uniflora) in Alaska.

Oneflower cinquefoil

Potentilla uniflora

Common Names

oneflower cinquefoil
one-flowered cinquefoil
singleflower cinquefoil
villous cinquefoil


Potentilla ledebouriana



Genus: Potentilla (cinquefoil)
Family: Rosaceae (roses)
Order: Rosales
full classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Oneflower cinquefoil is a yellow-flowering perennial herb that grows from a taproot and short caudex. The branching caudex is covered with withered old leaves. The aerial stems are branched or simple. Most of the leaves are basal and die annually. The leaves are hairy, petioled, palmate, and ternately divided (3 leaflets). The leaf blades are 10-15mm long and 15-25 mm wide. The leaflets are obovate in shape and are dentate with 5-7 acute teeth.

The flowering stems are taller than the leaves and are covered in short hairs (shorter than the diameter of the stem). The flowers have 5 ovate-lanceolate sepals that are green and often have reddish tips. Calyx hairs are long and silky. It also has 5 bracts (an epicalyx) alternate with the sepals about as long as the calyx, but narrower, also with reddish tips. The flower has 5 conventional, obovate, yellow petals that are 6-11 mm long. It has 20-30 stamens with yellow anthers and a superior ovary with 35-50 carpels with short 0.6-1 mm long styles.


For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

No specific uses for P. uniflora were found. Many other plants in the Potentilla genus are used for inflammation, as an antibiotic, a powerful antioxidant, and an antidiarrheal aid.

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Distribution and Habitat

In North America, P. uniflora lives predominantly west of the Canadian Rockies including Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, and Oregon. Its appearance in the Rocky Mountain states is sporadic, except perhaps in Colorado. The USDA map includes New Mexico and Montana, but not Idaho and Arizona, as where the GBIF Database does not include samples in New Mexico or Montana. Strangely, this species (and its synonym) do not appear in the NatureServe Database (*See note below). It exists, but rarely in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and GBIF reports a single instance in Greenland. It is also prevalent in eastern and north Siberia.

Oneflower cinquefoil lives in tundra and gravelly slopes and ridges. It lives primarily in soil with low organic content.

* It is noted in the Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago that specimens from Banks and Victoria Islands were previously included in P. Valhalia. It’s also noted in that P. uniflora hybridizes with P. villosa and P. vahliana as well as other Potentillas (Verna Pratt mentions P. hookeriana as an example). This all may lead to this species being easily confused with others. Some of the key identifying marks of P. uniflora are sepals are roughly the same length as the petals, it has old withered leaves (since they die off annually), the leaflets are dentate (toothed), and stems, leaves and sepals are all hairy.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                           FamilyRosaceae (roses)
                              GenusPotentilla L. (Potentilles, cinquefoil)
                                 SpeciesPotentilla uniflora Ledeb. (oneflower cinquefoil)

References and Further Reading


Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 37

Classification and Taxonomy

P. uniflora Ledeb. Taxonomic Serial No.: 24678, ITIS Database

P. uniflora Ledeb. oneflower cinquefoil, USDA Database


Search String: Potentilla, Native American Ethnobotany Database

Map and Distribution

P. uniflora Ledeb. Published in: Ledeb. In: Hook. Fl. Bor.-Amer. (Hook.) 1: 195. (1815)., GBIF Database

Description and Information

P. uniflora Ledeb., Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

P. uniflora : One-flower Cinquefoil, Central Yukon Species Inventory Project

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