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

Potentilla nana Willd. ex Schltdl.
arctic cinquefoil
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #21020)

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Distribution of Potentilla nana
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a stout branched stem-base covered with reddish-brown remains of old leaf-bases; stems several, densely tufted, decumbent to ascending or erect, 5-10 (25) cm tall, spreading-long-hairy.
Basal leaves several, palmately compound, long-stalked, the stalks spreading-hairy; leaflets 3, broadly egg-shaped, 0.5-2 cm long, coarse-toothed to near the base, green and long-hairy to smooth above, paler and usually soft-hairy beneath; stem leaves alternate, 1 or 2, unstalked, reduced.
Inflorescence of 1 to 3 stalked, terminal flowers; corollas yellow, bowl-shaped, the petals 5, heart-shaped, 5-8 mm long, notched at the tip; calyces soft-hairy, 5-lobed, the lobes lanceolate, 4-7 mm long, alternating with 5 slightly shorter, lance-oblong bractlets; ovaries superior; stamens about 20.
Achenes, several, clustered, lopsided-egg-shaped, 1-1.5 mm long, greenish, with a few longitudinal wrinkles.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to moist meadows, tundra and scree slopes in the alpine zone; frequent in N BC, rare S to about 50degreeN; circumpolar, N to AK and E to NF and PQ.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Potentilla nana

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) 35 1871 2615
Slope Gradient (%) 0 16 235
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 201 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 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(6), BAFA(101), cma(2), ESSF(7), IDF(1), IMA(7)


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 emarginata Pursh
Potentilla flabellifolia var. emarginata (Pursh) B. Boivin
Potentilla hyparctica Malte
Potentilla hyparctica subsp. nana (Willd. ex Schltdl.) Hult╬śn
Potentilla hyparctica var. elatior (Abrom.) Fern.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References