Common Cinquefoil

Common_Cinquefoil_jpgThis family (Rosaceae) commonly called the Rose Family consists of 107 genera and 3,100 species of herbs, shrubs and trees.  The family is of great economic importance, providing fruits (such as apples, cherries, plums, peaches, raspberries and strawberries) and numerous ornamentals. The genus (Potentilla) means “little powerful ones”; the diminutive of potens meaning “powerful”.  The species (simplex) means “unbranched” and refers to the overall shape of the plant.  The common name cinquefoil is for the 5 (cinque in French) petals on the flower. Cutler (1785) wrote of Common cinquefoil: “It is mildly astringent and antiseptic.  A decoction (preparation where plant parts are boiled to extract the pharmacologically active ingredient of it is used as a gargle for loose teeth and spungy gums.” Common Cinquefoil is found on moist or dry ground of shaded woods edges, fields, bluffs and meadows. About 100 species of cinquefoils are found in the United States. Though common to abundant in many places, their wildlife value is relatively low.  The usefulness to wildlife is confined largely to the West.

OtherCommonName:

Old-field Cinquefoil, Decumbent Five-Fingers

ScientificName:

Potentilla simplex

Community:

Thicket

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

8 to 10 inches

FruitingTime:

June to mid-August

Distribution:

Nova Scotia to Tennessee ~ Statewide but rare in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey

FloweringTime:

Mid-April to late June

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Terminal leaflets serrate on distal parts, half as wide as long, five leaflets ~ Rhizomes irregularly enlarged nodes ~ Stem hairy, arching, forking  ~ Leaves elliptic or oblong, toothed for ¾ of their length ~ The outer flower envelop has 5 clefts and the flower 5 petals, rounded