Potentilla fruticosa

Bush Cinquefoil




  • native to the Northern Hemisphere
  • hardy to zone 2; does not perform well in warmer climates (zone 7 and higher)

Habit and Form

  • a small, deciduous shrub
  • dense shrub with numerous upright branches
  • rounded habit
  • 1' to 4' tall with an equal or greater spread
  • fine texture
  • slow growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • compound, pinnate leaves
  • leaflets are elliptic and linear
  • 3 to 7 leaflets per leaf
  • medium blue-green to dark green leaf color
  • plant leafs out in early Spring
  • leaves are about 1" long

Autumn Foliage

  • fall color is yellow-brown
  • not ornamentally important


  • yellow, buttercup flowers
  • blooms from June until the first frost
  • about 1" to 1.5" in diameter


  • dry, brown achene
  • not showy
  • persist through winter


  • not ornamentally important
  • peeling bark


  • easy to grow
  • easily transplanted
  • soil adaptable
  • does well in extremely cold temperatures
  • full sun is best
  • to keep dense round habit, remove canes during winter or cut to ground

Landscape Use

  • shrub borders
  • foundation plant
  • facer plant
  • for flowers
  • mass plantings


  • somewhat difficult plant to keep looking tidy
  • few pest problems
  • spider mites
  • does not like warm night temperatures

ID Features

  • alternate leaf arrangement
  • pinnately compound leaves with 3 to 7 leaflets
  • yellow buttercup flowers June until frost
  • persistent achene


  • by cuttings
  • by seed
  • by tissue culture


Literally dozens of cultivars have been selected, mostly for variations in flower color. Presented below are abbreviated descriptions of a representative sampling of the most common forms.

'Abbotswood' - Considered one of the best, this low 3' form is disease-free and bears white blooms over a long period. 'Abbotswood Silver' is similar, but bears leaves variegated with white margins. 'McKay's White' is an alternative with creamy-white blooms that only grows 2.5" tall.

'Absaraka' (Dakota Goldrush®) and 'Fargo' (Dakota Sunspot®) - These two selections come out of North Dakota and feature larger yellow flowers that are produced over a long period on dwarf, compact rounded 3' plants.

'Coronation Triumph' - This 4' mounded form begins blooming early in the season and continues for a very long period with yellow blooms.

'Gold Drop' (also known as 'Farreri') - A classic cultivar that is still considered one of the best, this rounded 3' plant bears profuse yellow blooms all season.

'Goldfinger' - Common in the trade, this 3' mound bears large 1.5" yellow blooms over an extended period.

'Jackmannii' - A larger rounded selection, this classic form displays large deep yellow flowers all summer.

'Katherine Dykes' - An old selection, this form has a 2'-3' spreading-arching habit studded with light yellow blooms all summer.

'Longacre' and 'Yellow Gem' - Useful for their low, spreading groundcover habits, these two selections bear yellow blooms all season. 'Yellow Gem' has the added bonus of reddish young twigs and gray-green foliage.

'Pink Beauty' - A breakthough in this species, this plant bears clear pink blooms on a 2' rounded plant. In climates with warm summer nights, the flower color may not hold as well. 'Pink Pearl' and 'Pink Whisper' are two other pink-flowered forms, though the blooms may fade to yellow in warm climates.

'Primrose Beauty' - Producing light yellow blooms from late spring to frost, this 3' spreading plant is also notable for its silvery-gray foliage.

'Snowbird' - One of the few double-flowered cultivars available, this 3' upright form also has good lustrous foliage. The white double blooms may not show extra petals until the plant is established.

'Sunset' - Depending on exposure and climate, this newer 16" tall spreading form bears yellow blooms suffused with orange-reddish hues.

'Tangerine' - A color breakthough, this selection bears yellow flowers flushed with orange-copper. It is a mounded-spreading plant that grows to 2' tall and wider.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

The digital materials (images and text) available from the UConn Plant Database are protected by copyright. Public use via the Internet for non-profit and educational purposes is permitted. Use of the materials for profit is prohibited.

Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.