Potentilla robbinsiana

Common Names:
Robbins' cinquefoil
Oakes ex Britt. & A. Br.
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
New England Wild Flower Society

The conservation of Potentilla robbinsiana is fully sponsored.
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.


Potentilla robbinsiana is a long-lived, dwarf, alpine perennial. The species is endemic to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the main population of several thousand individuals clings to one of the most rugged areas of Mount Washington. Although each tiny plant only covers an area 2-6 cm in diameter (a 25 year-old plant is often the size of a quarter), the species has attracted a great deal of attention from botanical collectors and ecologists fascinated by their sometimes frustrating taxonomy, their unusual reproductive biology, and their extreme rarity. Though it was once precipitously close to extinction, the species appears to be bouncing back in the last two decades since it was protected from trampling by hikers and over-collection and since populations have been augmented in the field. As such, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently proposed de-listing the species. As stated in the original listing documentation by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1996), "Robbins' cinquefoil is symbolic of the fragile alpine ecosystem that is now threatened by excessive public use. The species has aesthetic value for many people, as well as scientific and educational value in promoting our understanding of the ecosystem."

Research and Management Summary:
A large number of individuals and institutions have played important roles in both researching and managing for this species.

Plant Description:
Robbins' cinquefoil grows as individual compact rosettes that can produce anywhere between 1 and 50 showy yellow flowers. It has hairy, toothed leaves that grow in groups of three leaflets. The solitary, terminal, yellow flowers are about 5-8 mm wide, with five rounded petals and 20 stamens. As many as five rosettes may grow off a single hardy taproot (which grows up to 5 cm deep in the soil), especially where frost-heaving is impacting a plant.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research