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Russian Cinquefoil

Potentilla intermedia

  • Name also: Downy Cinquefoil
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Usually biennial or perennial herb.
  • Height: 25–40 cm (10–16 in.). Sometimes many-stemmed. Stem ascending–erect, often many-branched, hairy, sometimes reddish.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), pale yellow, approx. 1 cm broad; petals 5, usually shallowly notched, 4–5 mm (0.15–0.2 in.) long, same length as or slightly shorter than calyx. Calyx 5-lobed; with epicalyx. Stamens 20. Gynoecium separate, pistils many. Inflorescence a dense corymb.
  • Leaves: Alternate, basal leaves long-stemmed, stem leaves short-stemmed, stipulate. Leaflets 5 (sometimes 3 on upper part of stem). Leaflets narrowly ovate, with toothed margin until base, both sides sparsely haired. Stipules entire–lobed.
  • Fruit: Receptacle bears several quite round, light brown, glossy, matt achenes.
  • Habitat: Dry meadows, meadows, banks, roadsides, railway yards, waste ground.
  • Flowering time: June–August.

Russian cinquefoil came into being in central Russia as a hybrid of silver cinquefoil (P. argentea) and Norwegian cinquefoil (P. norwegica). The person who gave it its name thus gave Russian cinquefoil its scientific species name intermedia, i.e. ‘intermediate’. Russian cinquefoil has features of both parent plants and the origin of the hybrid was also later confirmed empirically. Both of Russian cinquefoil’s parents grow in Finland too, often right beside it.

Russian cinquefoil is most common in Finland in Savo and Karelia, which was the heartland of the slash-and-burn style of agriculture, in which forest areas are cleared, burned to release locked-up nutrients, and cultivated. Nowadays Russian cinquefoil also grows in areas which were definitely not farmed in the slash-and-burn style. Outside these slash-and-burn areas however it is probably brought by traffic, returning in ancient times to its homeland in ballast soil in sailing boats, and later also travelling on railways. It was also probably brought to fortifications in Russian soldiers’ provisions, along with many other species. Russian cinquefoil stays close to people however all over Finland, and is never found in far-flung corners of the wilderness.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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