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Common name: Prairie Cinquefoil
Scientific name: Potentilla arguta
Duration: Perennial
Family: Rose family (Rosaceae)
Habitat: Well-drained soils that are moist to seasonally-dry; full sun to partial shade. Drought tolerant.
Blooming period: Midsummer
Color: Pale yellow flowers that resemble strawberry blossoms
Height: 2-3'
Planting Time: Fall to Early Spring; 30-days stratification

Pronunciation: Potentilla argute (po-ten-TIL-la ar-GOO-ta)

Other common names: white cinquefoil

Forage Value: Attracts pollinators such as bees, butterflies, flies, etc.

Historic Uses: Women of the Okanogan-Colville tribes would take an infusion of roots after childbirth as a gynecological aid. The Chippewa used different parts of this plants to treat cuts, dysentery, and headaches.

Miscellany: With tall cinquefoil, as with many species in the Potentilla genus, the coloring of the flowers are made more intricate when viewed with ultra-violet light (visible to insects). These ultra-violet reflecting patterns may function at nectar-guides for insects, explaining their attraction for pollinators.

Potentillas should be one of your first choices if you are planning a butterfly garden, as butterflies find them a very attractive nectar source. Deer are not fond of potentillas.

Potentilla is a Latin diminutive term from potens which means "powerful" and refers to the strong medicinal properties that some species within this genus have.

Arguta, argutus means acuminate or sharp-toothed which refers to the sharp teeth on the margin of the leaves.


The lowly cinquefoil is a rose,
A fact that any botanist knows,
Though it seems to me a mystery
How such a lowly plant can be
Sibling to a flower that grows
As glorious as a garden rose.
The bigger question does remain:
How you pronounce that funny name?
Does it 'sink' or does it 'sank'
As it wanders up the bank?
And as it creep across the soil
What pray tell does it foil?

Jack Sanders

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