Potentilla subarenaria Potentilla subarenaria Potentilla subarenaria

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Spring Cinquefoil

Potentilla verna

  • Earlier Latin name: Potentilla neumanniana, Potentilla tabernaemontani
  • Name also: Spotted Cinquefoil
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 5–10 cm (2–4 in.). Stem limp–ascending, creeping, rooting, hairy, often reddish. Often mat-forming, forms stands.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), bright yellow, 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in.) broad; petals five, 6–10 mm (0.25–0.4 in.) long, longer than sepals. Calyx 5-lobed, with epicalyx, epicalyx’s lobes short, broad. Stamens 10–30. Gynoecium separate, pistils many. Flowers solitary or a quite sparse corymb.
  • Leaves: Basal leaves as rosette, long-stalked, stem alternate, short-stalked–stalkless, stipulate. Leaflets 5 on basal leaves, 3 on stem leaves. Leaflets obovate, with toothed margins only at tips, glabrous on top, shiny, dark green, underside hairy, hairs solitary. Stipules linear with tapered tips.
  • Fruit: Receptacle bears many shallow-tipped achenes.
  • Habitat: Dry meadows, rocky outcrops, pastures.
  • Flowering time: May–June.
  • Endangerment: Critically endangered, protected in all of Finland, including the Åland Islands.

Spring cinquefoil is thought to have arrived in Finland a long time ago with ancient settlers because the stands are located near old waterways and the species often grows nowadays close to human activity. Spring cinquefoil grows in 16 places in Åland in the districts of Eckerö, Sund, Jomala and Lemland. Finland’s vascular plants are quite well known, so the discovery of the only stand of spring cinquefoil that is known to exist on the mainland in 1985 was quite a surprise.

Spring cinquefoil is a weak competitor and suffers from overcrowding. In many of its habitats the thinness and dryness of the soil or continual grazing keeps other vegetation down. The species’ Finnish population is probably declining with the disappearance of fields, meadows and farmyard pastures. Spring cinquefoil propagates organically through rooting shoots, and it multiplies by seed in open places where the vegetation is low-growing. It is unable to propagate itself by seed in overgrown areas and it gets choked when areas grass over.

Potentilla neumanniana (Potentilla subarenaria)

Spring cinquefoil is often difficult to tell apart from another protected cinquefoil, Potentilla neumanniana (P. subarenaria), and the species’ common growing areas on the Åland Islands apparently contains hybrids, even though each species usually reproduces apomictically. P. neumanniana probably came into being as a hybrid, with spring cinquefoil as its other parent. Differences are e.g. in the hairiness of the leaf: P. neumanniana is hairy also on top, and the underside has straight unbranched hairs, and stellate hairs too. It grows on the Åland Islands and in two places in the Turku archipelago. P. neumanniana is a calciphile. Compared to these two, alpine cinquefoil (P. crantzii) has ovate stipules in its basal leaves, its corolla is slightly larger, and there is usually a reddish yellow blotch at the base of the petals.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
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