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Manitoba Museum

Rose (Rosaceae)

White Cinquefoil

Potentilla arguta Pursh

This is a small deciduous herb that has a perennial growth habit. Although its small white flowers have no scent, they are visited by small bees, wasps, flies, and small butterflies. Some of these insects are pollinators, transferring pollen between flowers. The leaves and stems are a minor food source for mammalian herbivores such as rabbits and livestock. It flowers in mid-summer when few other species are in bloom.

Flower Colour:

  • White

Flowering Season:

  • Summer
  • Fall

Flowering Months:

  • August
  • July
  • June
  • September

Canadian Rarity Status:

Not rare. Listed as “sensitive” in the Northwest Territories.

Physical Appearance:

Several, hairy stems grow 60-100 cm tall, are unbranched except near the flowers, and have a few small leaves. Basal leaves are long-stalked, and divided into 5-11, hairy, egg-shaped leaflets with toothed edges. Stalked, bowl-shaped flowers occur in an apical and some smaller side clusters. Each flower has five, white, egg-shaped petals, 20+ yellow stamens, one small stigma, and five sepals. Fruits are numerous, egg-shaped achenes.

Similar Species:

Prairie Cinquefoil (Potentilla pensylvanica L.)

Gardening Notes:

Seeds and/or plants are often available from greenhouses and seed supply companies specializing in native plants. Plants are a good addition to prairie gardens.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie


  • Alvars
  • Open Woodlands
  • Prairies
  • Roadsides
  • Savannahs

Moisture Conditions:

  • Dry
  • Moderate

Light Preference:

  • Full Sun

Soil Preference:

  • Loam
  • Saline
  • Sand
White Cinquefoil