Potentilla is a genus of about 500 species of annual, biennial and perennial herbs in the rose family Rosaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include cinquefoil, tormentil, and barren strawberry.
Many of the species have leaves divided into five leaflets arranged palmately (like the fingers of a hand), whence the name cinquefoil (French, cinque feuilles, "five leaves"), though some species (e.g. P. sterilis) have just three leaflets, and others (e.g. P. anserina) up to 15 or more leaflets arranged pinnately. The leaves of some cinquefoils are eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Emperor Moth.
Recent genetic research has resulted in a number of changes to the circumscription of Potentilla.
The genera Duchesnea, Horkelia, and Ivesia, previously all regarded as distinct, have been shown to be members of Potentilla.
Conversely, the shrubby plant previously included in this genus as Potentilla fruticosa, does not to belong to Potentilla at all, and is now treated in the genus Dasiphora as Dasiphora fruticosa.
The two species formerly treated as Potentilla palustris and Potentilla salesowianum are now separated into the genus Comarum, while Potentilla tridentata is transferred to Sibbaldiopsis as Sibbaldiopsis tridentata, and Potentilla arguta is similarly now separated into the genus Drymocallis as Drymocallis arguta.
The silverweeds are also seperable into the new genus Argentina, though these are closer to the typical species of Potentilla, and this separation is less well supported.
Potentilla is also related to the genera Geum and Dryas, and also to the strawberries in the genus Fragaria; Potentilla differs from the strawberries in having dry, inedible fruit (hence the name "barren strawberry" for some species).
Some species are grown as garden plants.
Species of Potentilla
About 500, including:
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