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Weed Identification

sulphur cinquefoil



Scientific Name

Potentilla recta

Other Common Names:

erect cinquefoil

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Potentilla recta var. pilosa
Potentilla recta var. obscura
Potentilla recta var. sulphurea


Divided into 7 (sometimes 5, rarely 9) leaflets that arise from a common point on the stem. Lower leaves alternate, petioled. All leaves much longer than wide, widest at the middle and tapering to the base, sparsely hairy, with coarsely toothed margins.

Identifying Characteristics

The 7 leaflets that most often occur in this species helps to distinguish it from other similar cinquefoils. Oldfield cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex) and common cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis) both have 5 leaflets, darker yellow flowers, and rhizomes and/or stolons. Additionally, the light yellow flower with 5 petals is a good identifying characteristic of this cinquefoil.

Flower Seed Head

Light yellow (sulfur) with a darker yellow center, 1/2-1 inch wide, with 5 deeply notched petals.

Seed Fruit

Stems: Erect, unbranched, ascending from a central crown, hairy, reaching 1 to 2 1/2 ft tall. Fruit: An achene.

Where Found

A perennial with many ascending stems from a crown that may reach 1-2 1/2 ft in height. Primarily found in disturbed areas and along roadsides or railroads throughout N.C., S.C., Va., Tenn., Ky., W. Va.

Growth Habit

prostrate and nonwoody

Thorns or Spines

not present

Approximate Flower Diameter


Dominant Flower Color


Flower Symmetry

radial symmetery

Leaf Hairs

has hairs

Leaf Shape


Leaf Margin


Leaf Structure


Stem Hairs

has hairs

Stem Cross Section

round or oval

Milky Sap

not present

Life Cycle



not present

Plant Type