Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Potentilla fruticosa in flower
|About 500, including:
Potentilla is a genus of about 500 species of annual, biennial and perennial herbs and small shrubs in the rose family Rosaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include cinquefoil, tormentil, barren strawberry and silverweed.
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.
They are closely related to the avens in the genera Geum and Dryas, and also to the strawberries in the genus Fragaria, differing from the strawberries in having dry, inedible fruit (hence the name "barren strawberry" for some species).
Several species are popular garden plants, particularly the shrubby P. fruticosa. Different cultivars of this species are variable with flowers ranging from white to yellow, orange and pink, but they are all hardy plants that produce flowers for much of the summer. The flowers are always small, flat, and round, but there are many dozens on each bush. They are popular throughout its native Europe, and also grown in the United States and southern Canada. It is very often used by cities and businesses for landscaping because of its hardiness and low maintenance.
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