Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentialla recta)


Common names:

upright cinquefoil, rough-fruited cinquefoil, five-finger cinquefoil, yellow cinquefoil

Scientific Name:

Potentilla recta


Sulphur cinquefoil is an upright perennial in the Rosaseae (rose) family. The flowers are light yellow with five petals and a darker yellow center. The leaves have 5-7 leaflets and are rough and hairy with toothed margins. The stems are very hairy with quarter inch long hairs that stick out from the stem. It spreads through its abundant seed production.

Life cycle:


Height of mature plants

Up to 3 feet tall

Flower color:

light yellow

Bloom time:

May – early July


Sulphur cinquefoil looks very much like the native slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis), and therefore care should be taken when identifying it. The main differences between these two are that the native slender cinquefoil has petals that are darker yellow, the leaves are a bit silvery on the underside, and the hairs are longer and perpendicular to the stem. Before flowering, the leaves are also sometimes mistaken for marijuana, though once the yellow flowers appear it is very easy to distinguish between the two.


Sulphur cinquefoil grows best in sunny, open habitats, so it is likely to grow in meadows, pastures, roadsides, railroads, logged areas, or abandoned lots.


Sulphur cinquefoil is a very aggressive noxious weed that displaces native forbs and grasses, and can even outcompete some other invasive plants. It can degrade the value of pastures and rangelands as it is unpalatable to livestock and wildlife. It is also drought tolerant and very adaptable. A single plant can live 20 years and can produce up to 5000 seeds.

Noxious Weed Listing:


Asia and Europe


Oregon Noxious Weed Profile
Washington Noxious Weed Profile
King County Noxious Weed Profile profile
Invasive Plant Atlas profile


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