This is a charming little plant, from two to five inches tall, forming low, matted clumps of many branching stems, lying on the ground and woody at the base, and many stiffish leaves, with prominent veins, dark green and smooth on the upper side and white with close down on the under, their dark tones setting off the pure-white flowers, which have downy flower-stalks and are about an inch across, with about eight petals, a golden center and the calyx covered with sticky hairs. The seed-vessels are large and feathery. This grows in alpine places, across the continent, reaching an altitude of fourteen thousand feet, and in Europe and Asia.
There are many kinds of Cinquefoils, mostly natives of the north temperate zone, usually herbs, with compound leaves and yellow, white or purple flowers, always with pedicels; the fiat or cup-shaped calyx, with five, main teeth, alternating with five, tooth-like bractlets; petals five, broad, often notched; stamens numerous, with threadlike filaments and small anthers, near the base of the calyx-cup; pistils numerous, on the conical, hairy receptacle, which does not become fleshy or juicy, each pistil maturing into a dry, seed-like akene. Potentilla means "powerful," as some sorts are medicinal. They often resemble Buttercups, but never have shiny petals, and Buttercups do not have bractlets between the calyx-lobes.