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sulphur cinquefoil flowers
  • Long-lived perennial 0.3 to 0.8 meters tall

  • Older plants often form a ring-shaped clump

  • Introduced from Eurasia

sulphur cinquefoil leaves

Sulphur cinquefoil
(Potentilla recta)

Quick Identification

  • Pale yellow flower with 5 petals

  • Long, stiff hairs perpendicular to stem

  • Relatively few leaves at plant base

  • Underside of leaf is green, not silver

  • Palmate leaves

Sulphur cinquefoil is one of 3 introduced cinquefoils found in BC.  In disturbed areas it forms dense monocultures which exclude native vegetation. It is unpalatable to livestock.

Although primarily a seed producer, simply
eliminating seed production is not very effective in reducing or eliminating sulphur cinquefoil infestations. Hand-pulling is effective on small infestations provided the entire root is removed.  Selective herbicide is also effective.

Five pale yellow, heart-shaped petals with bright yellow centres are 1.3 to 2.5 cm in diameter. Each flower has 25 to 30 stamens and is found on top of a stem.

Leaves & Stems
A rosette on long-stalked leaves develops first and withers before flowering. Stems and leaves are covered with long, coarse, shiny hairs at right angles. Stem leaves are alternate, green on the underside, and composed of 5 to 7 leaflets with toothed margins. Leaflets appear like marijuana leaves (palmately compound).

sulphur cinquefoil infestation

Woody tap root may have several spreading roots but no rhizomes.

Reproduction & Dispersal
By seed and vegetatively. Most seeds fall near parent plant and disperse greater distances with water, soil movement, human activities and animals. Seeds survive three years or longer.


Oval shaped dark brown seeds covered with net-like ridges.

Preferred Habitat
Disturbed areas, grasslands, open forests, shrubby areas, roadsides and fields. Can invade healthy plant communities but does not tolerate full shade.  Associated with knapweed infestations.

Interesting Facts
Unpalatable to grazing animals due to high tannin content.

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