Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Sulfur Cinquefoil: Potentilla recta

Weed Description:  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.

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

Fruit:  An achene.

Leaves:  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.

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

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.