Sulphur Cinquefoil – Potentilla recta

Sulpher Cinquefoil flower
Sulpher Cinquefoil flower

This eastern Mediterranean native was imported to North America sometime before 1900. By 1950 it was well established in eastern North America, and spread west from there. This beautiful little flower has spread so readily and so rapidly that it is considered a noxious weed in Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Oregon has gone so far as to quarantine it!

You can find this flower in bloom from May through July. It is pale yellow, with a deeper yellow in the center of the flower. To see this you often have to look very closely, use an ultra violet light though, and it stands out!

The Okanagan-Colville Indians of British Columbia and Washington pounded the leaves to make a poultice to treat open sores and wounds. There may have been older uses in herbal medicine in Eastern Europe, but that, by itself, was the only reference found!

Wild animals and grazing livestock tend to avoid its consumption due to high tannic acid content that tends to make it unpalatable. There are no reports of Toxicity when animals have grazed it.

Humans can eat the seeds, but they are small. In the Language of Flowers the cinquefoil means the ‘Beloved Child.’


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