Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Prairie Cinquefoil or White Cinquefoil - a Relative of Roses

Prairie Cinquefoil or White Cinquefoil is starting to bloom, with clusters of white flowers on tall stalks. I stumbled across — or, more accurately — into White Cinquefoil when I was looking for Prairie wildflowers in a small unmown meadow.

But with petals just starting to form, I couldn't figure out what these white stubs were trying to become. It wasn't until a few days later that another flower fan pointed out a blossoming White Cinquefoil and provided the name.

Prairie Cinquefoil. Copyright © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved
White Cinquefoil, or Prairie Cinquefoil  © SB

A member of the Rose family, the Prairie Cinquefoil has a very hairy and erect stem, five petals, five sepals (is that where cinq feuilles/five leaves name comes from?), and coarsely serrated leaves.

In one of my flower guides, this plant is labelled a Potentilla — but P. arguta is apparently an older scientific name, and it's now classified as Drymocallis arguta (perhaps a helpful synonym for anyone seeking more information)

This white flower must look very different to pollinating insects. Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois says that special filters reveal ultra-violet reflecting patterns in the flowers of many cinquefoils, including Prairie Cinquefoil. These bee-blue markings, invisible to the human eye, may guide insects to nectar.

Prairie Wildflower: Prairie Cinquefoil
Location:  Near Muenster, Saskatchewan, Canada
Photo Date: July 7, 2015. 


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