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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Short-leaved Cinquefoil - Potentilla brevifolia

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S2S3
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank: 3

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is currently only from a few collections from the Madison Range. The remote, high-elevation habitat should greatly minimize the potential for any negative impacts to the viability of the species in the state. Accurate estimates of population levels are lacking.
General Description
Perennial from a long-branched rootstock, clothed in old leaves. Stems ascending, glandular, 5–15 cm. Leaf blades cordate-ovate, 10–15 mm long, pinnately divided into 3 to 7 deeply lobed, fan-shaped, glandular-puberulent leaflets. Inflorescence a several-flowered, glandular cyme with ascending branches. Flowers: sepals ovate, 3–4 mm long with shorter, lanceolate bracteoles; petals yellow, 5–6 mm long, retuse. Achenes smooth, 1–1.5 mm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Flowering in August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Distinguished from other Montana Potentilla by combining perennial mat-forming habit, finely glandular-hairy herbage, short pinnate leaf blades, and a style attached between the middle and top of the ovary.

Species Range

Range Comments
OR to southwest MT, south to northwest WY and northeast NV. Regional endemic.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Open, rocky, granite-derived soil and scree slopes in the alpine zone.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Simanonok, M. 2018. Plant-pollinator network assembly after wildfire. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 123 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Short-leaved Cinquefoil — Potentilla brevifolia.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from