Sulfur Cinquefoil

Potentilla recta

Sulfur Cinquefoil

Family: Rosaceae

Other Common Names: upright cinquefoil, rough-fruited cinquefoil
Weed class: B
Year Listed: 1993
Native to: Europe and Asia
Is this Weed Toxic?:

not known to be

Why Is It a Noxious Weed?

Sulfur cinquefoil can form monocultures over large areas of rangeland, roadsides, waste places and fields. It is a strong competitor with grasses in rangeland areas. It has a high tannin content and is unpalatable to most wildlife and livestock.

How would I identify it?

General Description

Sulfur cinquefoil is a perennial species with a woody rootstock, reaching one to three feet in height.

Flower Description

Flowers are found on flat topped inflorescences. Petals have five light yellow petals and a dark yellow center.

Leaf description

Leaves are rough and hairy. They have 5 to 7 palmately arranged leaflets that are 2 to 4 inches long by 1/2 to 1 inch wide and have toothed margins.

Stem description

Stems are stout, leafy and hairy.

Fruit Seed Description

The fruits are achenes, which are dark brown, with lighter, prominent, branched ridges, and narrow, winged margins.

Where does it grow?

Sulfur cinquefoil is found on open grasslands, shrubby areas, open forest and logged areas, roadsides, waste areas and abandoned fields. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of sulfur cinquefoil in Washington.

How Does it Reproduce?

Sulfur cinquefoil reproduces by seed, but it can be spread by roots if they are moved by tillage or on soil-moving equipment.

How Do I Control It?

General Control Strategy


Mechanical Control

Mowing is not effective and roots will send up new shoots. In productive areas, cultivation with annual crops will control sulfur cinquefoil. Hand pulling or chopping is also effective if care is taken to remove the root crown.

Cultural Control


Biological Control

Forty-seven species of insects are associated with sulfur cinquefoil in the northeastern U.S., but because of close genetic relationship between cinquefoils and strawberries there is concern with bioagents attacking non-targeted plants.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.

For More Information

See our Written Findings for more information about sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta).

Thurston County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

King County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Asotin County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Clallam County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Island County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Jefferson County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Lincoln County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Whatcom County NWCB Fact Sheet on sulfur cinquefoil

Control Options for sulfur cinquefoil from King County NWCB

Control Options for sulfur cinquefoil from Whatcom County NWCB

Additional Photos