Potentilla alba

Common Name: cinquefoil 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Central, southern and eastern Europe
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 0.25 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to June
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, moist but well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but will not grow in full shade. Established plants have respectable drought tolerance. Excellent winter hardiness, with best performance occurring in cool northern summer climates. Will reseed in the garden in optimum growing conditions. Plants often perform poorly in hot and humid summers south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Potentilla alba, commonly known as white cinquefoil, is a vigorous herbaceous perennial ground cover in the rose family. It typically grows in a slowly-expanding mound to 3-5” tall spreading to 12” wide. It is native to central and eastern Europe.

Each plant features a clump of long-stalked, palmate, basal leaves, each leaf being divided into five finger-like, apically-toothed, oblong-lanceolate, glossy dark green leaflets (to 1.5” long) with hairy white-tinged undersides. Five-petaled, rose-like, white flowers (3/4” across) bloom in spring (late April - June) in loose clusters (2-5 flowered apical cymes) which rise above the foliage to 8” tall. Modest repeat bloom in fall may occur.

Genus name from Latin potens meaning powerful is in reference to the reputed medicinal properties of the plant.

Specific epithet from Latin meaning white.

The common name of cinquefoil comes from the Latin words qunique meaning five and folium meaning leaf in reference to the 5-parted plant leaves.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Rock gardens. Border fronts. Ground cover for sunny areas of the landscape.