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

Potentilla pensylvanica L.
Pennsylvania Cinquefoil (Norwegian Cinquefoil; Pennsylvanian cinquefoil; prairie cinquefoil)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Amelie Rousseau  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #6470)

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Distribution of Potentilla pensylvanica
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Potentilla pensylvanica var. pensylvanica

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a simple or branched stem-base covered with brown remains of old leaf-bases; stems slender, 1 to several, tufted, spreading to erect, 10-80 cm tall, simple or branched above, hairy and usually also thinly woolly.
Basal leaves stalked, pinnately compound; leaflets 7 to 11 (15), the upper 3 the largest, oblong to lanceolate, 1-5 cm long, cleft halfway or nearly to the midrib into linear-oblong lobes, grey-green and smooth to appressed-hairy on the upper surface, white-woolly to minutely appressed-hairy or nearly smooth and greenish beneath; stem leaves alternate, 3 to 4, reduced upwards.
Inflorescence a compact, narrow, terminal cluster of few to several stalked flowers; corollas yellow, bowl-shaped, the petals 5, egg-shaped, 5-8 mm long, shallowly notched or not at the tip; calyces woolly- to appressed-hairy and more or less glandular, 5-lobed, the lobes lance-triangular, 4-7 mm long, alternating with 5 shorter, narrowly lanceolate bractlets; ovaries superior, the styles glandular-warty-thickened at the base; stamens usually 20.
Achenes, numerous, clustered, lopsided-egg-shaped, 1-1.5 mm long, brown, smooth but often granular.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry grasslands and rocky or gravelly slopes in the steppe and montane zones; frequent in C and E BC, infrequent northward; N to AK, E to NF and S to NV and MN; Greenland.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Potentilla pensylvanica

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) 445 1005 2005
Slope Gradient (%) 0 18 130
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
5 180 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 7
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: BG(43), BWBS(9), ESSF(11), ICH(5), IDF(80), MS(6), PP(5), SBPS(1), SBS(3), SWB(4)


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.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References