FIVEFINGER COMMON CINQUEFOIL





(Potentilla Canadensis) Rose family



Flowers - Yellow, 1/4 to 1/2 in. across, growing singly on long

peduncles from the leaf axils. Five petals longer than the 5

acute calyx lobes with 5 linear bracts between them; about 20

stamens; pistils numerous, forming a head. Stem: Spreading over

ground by slender runners or ascending. Leaves: 5-fingered, the

digitate, saw-edged leaflets (rarely 3 or 4) spreading from a

common point, petioled; some in a tuft at base.

Preferred Habitat - Dry fields, roadsides, hills, banks.

Flowering Season - April-August.

Distribution - Quebec to Georgia, and westward beyond the

Mississippi.



Everyone crossing dry fields in the eastern United States and

Canada at least must have trod on a carpet of cinquefoil (cinque

= five, feuilles = leaves), and have noticed the bright little

blossoms among the pretty foliage, possibly mistaking the plant

for its cousin, the trefoliate barren strawberry (q.v.). Both

have flowers like miniature wild yellow roses. During the Middle

Ages, when misdirected zeal credited almost any plant with

healing virtues for every ill that flesh is heir to, the

cinquefoils were considered most potent remedies, hence their

generic name.



The SHRUBBY CINQUEFOIL, or PRAIRIE WEED (P. fructicosa), becomes

fairly troublesome in certain parts of its range, which extends

from Greenland to Alaska, and southward to New Jersey, Arizona,

and California; as well as over northern Europe and Asia. It is a

bushy, much branched, and leafy shrub, six inches to four feet

high), with bright yellow, five-parted flowers an inch across,

more or less, either solitary or in cymes at the tips of the

branches. They appear from June to September. The honeybee,

alighting in the center of a blossom and turning around, passes

its tongue over the entire nectar-bearing ring at the base of the

stamens, then proceeding to another flower to do likewise,

effects cross-fertilization regularly. On a sunny day the bright

blossoms attract many visitors of the lower grade out after

nectar and pollen, the beetles often devouring the anthers in

their greed. The leaves on this cinquefoil are usually compounded

of one terminal and four side leaflets that are narrowly oblong,

an inch or less in length, and silky hairy. Sometimes there may

be seven leaflets pinnately, not digitately, arranged. Although

the shrubby cinquefoil prefers swamps and moist, rocky places to

dwell in, it wisely adapts itself, as globe-trotters should, to

whatever conditions it meets.



SILVERY or HOARY CINQUEFOIL (P. argentea), found in dry soil,

blooming from May to September from Canada to Delaware, Indiana,

Kansas, and Dakota, also in Europe and Asia, has yellow flowers

only about a quarter of an inch across, but foliage of special

beauty. From the tufted, branching, ascending stems, four to

twelve inches long, the finely cleft, five-foliate leaves are

spread on foot stems that diminish in size as they ascend, not to

let the upper leaves shut off the light from the lower ones.

These leaves are smooth and green above, silvery on the under

side, with fine white hairs, adapted for protection from

excessive sunlight and too rapid transpiration of precious

moisture. They entirely conceal the sensitive epidermis from

which they grow.





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