E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Comarum palustre L.
marsh cinquefoil (purple marshlocks)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Larry Halverson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #46892)

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Distribution of Comarum palustre
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a long-creeping, often floating, somewhat woody rhizome; stems prostrate to ascending, 20-100 cm long/tall, smooth and frequently reddish below, becoming hairy and glandular above.
Alternate, deciduous, lower ones pinnately compound; leaflets 5 to 7, oblong, 2-8 cm long, coarsely saw-toothed, light green and smooth to sparsely hairy above, paler, glaucous and hairy beneath; upper leaves smaller; base of the leaf-stalks and stipules sheathing the stem.
Inflorescence a loose terminal cluster of few to several (or many) stalked flowers, the stalks glandular-hairy; corollas reddish-purple, saucer-shaped, about 2 cm across, the petals 5, lance-ovate to elliptic, 3-5 mm long; calyces glandular and hairy, 5-lobed, the lobes lance-egg-shaped, 7-15 mm long, spreading, enlarging and ascending in fruit, alternating with 5 narrower, shorter bractlets; ovaries superior; stamens about 25, purple.
Achenes, numerous, plumply egg-shaped, smooth, brownish-purple, about 1.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Marshes, fens, bogs, lake margins and wet meadows in the lowland and montane zones; common throughout BC; circumboreal, N to AK, E to NF and S to NJ, WY and N CA; Greenland, Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Comarum palustre

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 982 2095
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 100
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 1 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 7 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BAFA(3), BG(3), BWBS(72), CDF(17), CWH(74), ESSF(139), ICH(217), IDF(59), MH(3), MS(109), SBPS(79), SBS(402), SWB(5)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Potentilla palustris (L.) Scop.
Potentilla palustris var. parvifolia (Raf.) Fernald & Long
Potentilla palustris var. villosa (Pers.) Lehm.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References