Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sulphur Cinquefoil

Sulpher Cinquefoil, Wichita near the airport,
on abandoned railroad track, June 2013

Sulfur cinquefoil, Potentilla recta, Rose family (Rosaceae)

This Kansas wildflower has pale to bright yellow (sulfur-colored) flowers with 5 heart-shaped petals. There can be one to several hairy stems per plant and numerous leaves on the stems, 5 to 7 leaflets with distinctly toothed edges. Sulfur cinquefoil (five petal) is a perennial. It can spreads by seed and also reproduces through new shoots emerging from its woody root crown. Stems sprouting from the central woody crown will, over time, separate into individual plants. Plants can live up to 20 years. Blooms in may and June.

Wildlife and livestock will graze the plant, but it is not preferred due to its tannin content, an astringent. Native Americans applied the crushed leaves and stems of sulphur cinquefoil to open wounds and sores.

Sulpher Cinquefoil, flower

Habitat includes sunny pastures and prairie fields, vacant lots, gravelly areas along railroads and dirt roads. This plant prefers disturbed ground with alkaline soil.

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