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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)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats

Agency Status


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
Montana Range Range Descriptions


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

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 30

(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.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus bifarius, Bombus fervidus, Bombus frigidus, Bombus rufocinctus, Bombus occidentalis, Bombus pensylvanicus, Bombus impatiens, and Bombus flavidus (Thorp et al. 1983, Wilson et al. 2010, Colla and Dumesh 2010, Colla et al. 2011, Koch and Strange 2012, Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).

Threats or Limiting Factors
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Colla, S., L. Richardson, and P. Williams. 2011. Bumble bees of the eastern United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 103 p.
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141:39-68.
    • Koch, J., J. Strange, and P. Williams. 2012. Bumble bees of the western United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 143 p.
    • Koch, J.B. and J.P. Strange. 2012. The status of Bombus occidentalis and B. moderatus in Alaska with special focus on Nosema bombi incidence. Northwest Science 86:212-220.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
    • Wilson, J.S., L.E. Wilson, L.D. Loftis, and T. Griswold. 2010. The montane bee fauna of north central Washington, USA, with floral associations. Western North American Naturalist 70(2): 198-207.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Hawkins, P.H. 1903. The alpine flora of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis, Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 24 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Martin, S.A. 1985. Ecology of the Rock Creek bighorn sheep herd, Beartooth Mountains, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 152 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"
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Citation for data on this website:
Five-leaf Cinquefoil — Potentilla nivea var. pentaphylla.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from