Potentilla, from potens, powerful, because some members of the species have medicinal value.

Perennial. Roadsides and fields, growing in mats and patches; common and variable; produces summer runners. Nova Scotia, New England, south to Georgia, west to Minnesota and Indian Territory. Abundant in northern Ohio. April-September.


Fibrous, sending out summer runners that root at the tip.


Slender, with silky hairs, at first decumbent or prostrate, afterward frequently erect.


Petioled, compound, really three-parted, but apparently five-parted because the lateral leaflets are cleft; leaflets serrate, pointed.


Yellow, solitary, on slender stems, borne in the axils of the leaves.


Deeply five-cleft with bracts between the teeth, thus appearing ten-cleft.


Of five broad, rounded petals, notched at the apex and showing the hairy green calyx.


Many; filaments slender; anthers small.


Many, forming a dense little bunch of green in the centre of the flower.


A head of akenes.

In fields and on roadsides in April and May one finds beds of Potentilla which are dotted over with bright, uplooking yellow flowers -"luikin oot o' their leaves like wee sons of the sun." The flowers suggest yellow Wild Strawberry blossoms; the two appear about the same time, and frequently the beds are side by side, sometimes intermixed. Structurally, there is not much difference between a Potentilla and a Strawberry blossom, but practically there is a great deal, for one produces a strawberry and the other does not.

Potentilla. Potentilla Canadensis

Potentilla. Potentilla Canadensis

Later in the summer there are fewer blossoms, but the inquiring tips of the little runners are very much in evidence. The name Five-Fingers was suggested by the shape of the leaf, which has five leaflets standing out like the fingers of a hand. These leaves are among the last to disappear in the woodlands under the blankets of November.