Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Five-leaf Cinquefoil - Potentilla nivea var. pentaphylla
Other Names:  Potentilla quinquefolia

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5T4
State Rank: S3
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank: 4

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, though several large populations are known and most populations, as well as the species' habitat, are not being negatively impacted.
General Description
Five-leaf Cinquefoil is an herbaceous perennial with erect or ascending stems that are 5-20 cm high and arising from a branched rootcrown. The numerous basal leaves have slender petioles and 3 or 5 deeply lobed, narrowly elliptic leaflets that are 1-2 cm long. The 1-2 alternate stem leaves are similar but usually have only 3 leaflets. The stems and lower leaf surfaces are densely covered with long, gray hairs, while the upper surfaces of leaves are covered with sparse, silky hairs. Several stalked flowers are borne in a branched, somewhat crowded inflorescence. The bowl-shaped flowers have 5 broadly lance-shaped, long-hairy sepals that are 3-4 mm long, 5 yellow, oblong petals that are 4-5 mm long with shallowly lobed tips, 20 stamens, and numerous pistils. The slender style has a bumpy, thickened base and is attached near the top of the nearly smooth, brown achene that is 1-2 mm long.

Flowering in July, fruiting in August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
There are many similar-appearing species of POTENTILLA. A technical key and hand lens or microscope are required for positive determination. P. CONCINNA usually has some leaves with 7 leaflets and rarely any with 3; P. UNIFLORA rarely has more than 3 leaflets.

Species Range

Range Comments
B.C. to Sask., south to OR, UT, and CO. Sparse.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 31

(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)

Dry, gravelly soil of exposed ridges and slopes in the montane to alpine zones.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Vanderhorst, J.P. and B.L. Heidel. 1995. Sensitive plant survey in the Tobacco Root Mountains, Madison County, Montana. Unpublished report to the Beaverhead and Deerlodge National Forests. Montana Natural Heritage Program. Helena, MT. 66 pp. plus appendices.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Five-leaf Cinquefoil"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Five-leaf Cinquefoil — Potentilla nivea var. pentaphylla.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from