Potentilla gracilis
Common Name: cinquefoil 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Canada, United States
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


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 and alpine climates to 9,000’ in elevation. Plants perform poorly in hot and humid summer conditions south of USDA Zone 7. Will reseed in the garden in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Potentilla gracilis, commonly known as slender cinquefoil, graceful cinquefoil or fivefinger cinquefoil, is a vigorous multi-stemmed, slender perennial of the rose family that typically grows to 1-2’ tall. It is native to a variety of habitats including meadows, open forests, clearings, roadsides, stream banks, grasslands, foothills, sagebrush desert, and alpine areas to 9,000’ in elevation in a large geographic range extending from Alaska and Yukon east through the Canadian provinces to the Atlantic coast plus from Washington State south to California through the Cascades and Sierras to Arizona and New Mexico and east to the Dakotas and Michigan.

Each plant features a clump of palmate, long-petioled, basal leaves divided into 5-7 (9) toothed, lanceolate, finger-like leaflets. Leaves have sharply-cut teeth and hairy white-tinged undersides. Five-petaled, rose-like, pale to bright yellow flowers (3/4” across) with 13-20 center stamens bloom in early summer (June to July) in loose clusters (flat-topped cymes) atop sparsely-leaved stems rising above the basal clump to 24” tall.

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

Specific epithet from Latin means slender.

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.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Wildflower gardens. Borders. Cottage gardens.