Three-toothed Cinquefoil

Three Toothed Cinquefoil
peganum from Henfield, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Other Names: shrubby fivefingers
Family: Rosaceae Native to: Eastern North America, Interior North America
Hardy to zone: 2
Eco benefits: attracts pollinators
Natural habitat: prairies, mountains, hillsides & uplands, rocky slopes
Shapes: prostrate
Growth rate: medium
Common uses: landscaping, naturalized plantings, ground cover
Light: full sun
Soil: well drained, acid ph, dry, sandy

Three Toothed Cinquefoil
Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Three-toothed Cinquefoil is a creeping perennial native to central and eastern North America. Sibbaldiopsis tridentata was formerly called Potentilla tridentata, but genetic analysis has placed it in its own genus. It inhabits sunny, dry, gravelly sites in mountains, uplands, and summits with an acidic ph. The leaves and stems are herbaceous and only the very the base and roots are woody. Three-toothed Cinquefoil has a prostrate form, spreading along rock crevices and the ground. Good as a groundcover for pollinator or rock gardens; it also will do well as a container plant that spills over the edge.

Three Toothed Cinquefoil
Superior National Forest, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

leaves are compound and trifoliate, oblong lanceolate, with three teeth at the tip; glossy and evergreen, turning deep red in the fall if exposed to full sun. Most leaves are condensed at the base of the plant, Blooms occur from June to August with small, white, 5 petaled flowers resembling those of the 'Potentilla'. Flowers eventually fold into seed pods which turn from green to grayish brown and form tiny hairy seeds inside. These attract pollinators and specialized bees.

References (n.d.). Three-toothed Cinquefoil Sibbaldiopsis tridentata. Retrieved from

MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. November 26, 2020.

Smreciu, A., Wood, S., Gould, K., University of Alberta Libraries. (2013). Sibbaldiopsis tridentata: three-toothed cinquefoil, shrubby five fingers. Retrieved from

Nature Serve Explorer. (2020). Sibbaldiopsis tridentata. Retrieved from

NC State Extension. (n.d.). ibbaldia tridentata. Retrieved from