General: Sulphur Cinquefoil is a perennial that is part of the rose family and is considered noxious under the BC Weed Control Act.
Flowers: The flowers are pale yellow with 5 heart-shaped petals that are 10 mm long and have a bright yellow center.
Stems: Sulphur Cinquefoil has one or many stems per plant. The stems are hairy, erect, and 30-80 cm tall. Older plants may lose hair on stems due to exposure.
Leaves: Sulphur Cinquefoil leaves are palmately lobed with 5 to 7 leaflets that become shorter stalked closer to the shoot. The leaves are 3-6 cm long and hairy on both sides.
Seeds: Sulphur Cinquefoil has tiny (1mm), dark brown, seeds with ridges.
Roots: It has a coarse, fibrous root system.
Graceful or Slender Cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis) is a perennial that is a member of the rose family and native to North America. It grows from a short, thick woody crown. It is shorter than Sulphur Cinquefoil, has white, woolly hairs on the underside of the leaves, and has bright yellow flowers surrounding a yellow center.
There are over 20 cinquefoil species in BC, most of which are native. Sulphur Cinquefoil’s seeds are distinct due to their wrinkled appearance.
Habitat and Origin
Originally from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, Sulphur Cinquefoil was introduced to North America during the 19th century.
Sulphur Cinquefoil thrives in semi-arid areas but is tolerant of a wide variety of soil types and climates. It can be found growing in grasslands, dry open forests, and disturbed sites such as roadsides, pastures, rangelands, and waste spaces.
Propagation & Vectors of Spread
Sulphur Cinquefoil reproduces by seed and vegetatively. A single plant can produce over 16,000 seeds which can stay viable in the soil for several years. New plants can also grow from the main root, allowing the plant to live up to 20 years.
Sulphur Cinquefoil spreads by seed and vegetatively. Sulphur Cinquefoil seeds are spread by wildlife and humans. Seeds can be ingested by birds, wildlife, and livestock and then dispersed. Seeds can also spread in mud that gets stuck in tire treads and the undercarriages of vehicles or machinery.
Ecological and Economic Impacts
- Decreases local plant biodiversity.
- Decreases forage for wildlife.
- Decreases available forage for grazing animals due to unpleasant taste.
What Can I Do?
Sulphur Cinquefoil is currently found throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor, so the best approach to controlling its spread is by PREVENTION.
Learn to identify Sulphur Cinquefoil: use the images presented in this profile page to learn how to identify Sulphur Cinquefoil.
What to do if you spot it: You can report any Sulphur Cinquefoil sightings by clicking here.
- Regularly monitor properties for weed infestations.
- Ensure soil and gravel are uncontaminated before transport.
- Check wildflower mixes to ensure that they do not contain Sulphur Cinquefoil.
- Ensure that plants are disposed of in a garbage bag if found in floral arrangements to prevent seeds from spreading.
- Unload, park or store equipment or vehicles in infested areas; remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles, or clothing used in such areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas.
- Plant Sulphur Cinquefoil in a garden, no matter how well-contained its enclosure may seem.
- Move soil that has been contaminated with Sulphur Cinquefoil.
- Place Sulphur Cinquefoil in the compost (put it in the garbage instead!).
- Pulling can be effective on small infestations if done before seeds mature and while the soil is moist.
- If seeds are mature, cut and bag seed heads before mechanical control.
- With larger infestations, plowing or harrowing and seeding with grass species is effective but must be done over several years to completely deplete the seed bank.
- Selective broadleaf herbicides are most effective when applied in early spring or summer.
- Picloram, 2,4-D, or a combination of picloram/ 2,4-D and aminopyralid provide effective control. However, picloram is not suitable for wet, coastal soils.
- We recommend that any herbicide application is carried out by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates; municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations; species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.
There are currently no biological control methods for Sulphur Cinquefoil.
- Alberta Invasive Species Council, Sulphur Cinquefoil, https://abinvasives.ca/fact-sheet/sulphur-cinquefoil/
- Alberta Invasive Species Council, Sulphur Cinquefoil Factsheet, https://secureservercdn.net/126.96.36.199/yjc.cc8.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/PN_FS-SulphurCinquefoil.pdf?time=1636132451
- BC Government, Sulphur Cinquefoil – Pastures and Rangeland, https://tnrd.civicweb.net/document/4127
- Electronic Atlas of the Flora of BC, Potentilla recta, https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Potentilla%20recta
- Fraser Valley Invasive Species Society, Sulphur Cinquefoil, https://fviss.ca/invasive-plant/sulphur-cinquefoil
- Invasive Species Council of BC, Sulphur Cinquefoil, https://bcinvasives.ca/invasives/sulphur-cinquefoil/
- Invasive Species Council of BC, Sulphur Cinquefoil TIPS Factsheet, https://bcinvasives.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Sulphur_Cinquefoil_FINAL_20_02_2019.pdf
- Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, Sulfur Cinquefoil, https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=4431
- King County Noxious Weed Control Board, Sulphur cinquefoil identification and control, https://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/animals-and-plants/noxious-weeds/weed-identification/sulfur-cinquefoil.aspx
- Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society, Sulphur Ciquefoil (Potentilla recta L.), https://lriss.ca/species/sulphur-ciquefoil-potentilla-recta
- Okanagan Invasive Species Online, Sulphur cinquefoil, https://www.oiso.ca/species/sulphur-cinquefoil/