CPC Plant Profile: Rocky Mountain Cinquefoil
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Plant Profile

Rocky Mountain Cinquefoil (Potentilla rupincola)

  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • State: CO
  • Nature Serve ID: 160005
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Potentilla rupincola is a low-growing perennial. It is usually caespitose (with a cushion plant growth form) (Child personal communication 2002, Scully personal communication 2002), but plants in sheltered sites may be taller and more erect, up to three dm tall (as described in Osterhout (1899) and Spackman et al. (1997)). Older plants have an extensive root system with branching, underground woody caudices (Osterhout 1899, Scully personal communication 2002). Weber (1976) states that the plants form massive tussocks with much dead leaf and stem material,and Spackman et al. (1997) and Weber and Wittmann (2001a) note the presence of marcescent leaf petioles.

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Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Potentilla rupincola is known from 24 occurrences with a total population size estimated to be near 20,000 individuals. The populations don't seem to be extremely threatened because of the relative inaccessibility of the habitat.

Osterhout, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Exotic species invasions are considered to be the primary threat to the species at this time (Rondeau et al. 2011). Other threats include residential and commercial development, secondary impacts of grazing, right-of-way management, off-road vehicle use a

Osterhout, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

There are 24 principal occurrences documented in the Colorado Natural Heritage Program database. Seven of the 24 occurrences have not been observed in over 20 years (as of 2006). The USFS Conservation Assessment documents 23 occurrences (Anderson 2004).

Osterhout, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010


Osterhout, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

On USFS Sensitive Species list

Osterhout, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Further species inventory work is among the top priorities for research on Potentilla rupincola. Very little is known about the population ecology of Potentilla rupincola. Baseline population size data are available for many occurrences but there are no monitoring data with which to determine the population trend. Basic life history parameters need to be determined from which the viability of occurrences can be inferred. Understanding the genetic structure and demographics of Potentilla rupincola are among the top research priorities for this species. Demographic research will have great value for management and conservation purposes. Understanding the breeding systems employed by Potentilla rupincola is another research priority for this species due to the practical and scientific value of such studies.

Osterhout, Mary VB Goshorn
  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection and storage.


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Taxon Potentilla rupincola
Authority Osterh
Family Rosaceae
CPC Number 3610
ITIS 24746
Common Names Rocky Mountain Cinquefoil | rock cinquefoil
Associated Scientific Names Potentilla rupincola | Potentilla effusa var. rupincola
Distribution The global distribution of Potentilla rupincola is limited to the Colorado Front Range. It has been reported from Larimer, Boulder, Clear Creek, and Park counties (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 20
State Rank
State State Rank
Colorado S2

Generally found on granite shelves, in crevices of granite rock outcrops, and on cliff faces. Almost exclusively on granite or metamorphic rocks with composition similar to granite (e.g. schist), or in shallow (<25 cm) soils derived from such rocks, within small soil patches on or adjacent to outcrops. Soil when present is coarse (loamy sand or sandy loam, often gravelly), and is dry and excessively drained. Plants are also sometimes found in sparsely forested sites with thin soil, most often on the margin of forests in areas too rocky to support trees rather than within the forests. Sites are typically exposed and windswept (often west or north exposure), supporting open forests or parklands of Pinus flexilis (limber pine), Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine), or Pinus aristata (bristlecone pine). Plants most often grow in open sites accompanied by few other vascular plant species, but they are also found in the shade of trees and shrubs; other co-occurring species include Aletes humilis. Also documented on roadcuts. Lower montane foothills to subalpine sites near treeline, 2000 - 3325 m.

Ecological Relationships


Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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