Potentilla is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rosaceae, comprising about 500 species. It is commonly known as Cinquefoils.
Potentilla is an annual, biennial or perennial herb which has similar outlook like strawberries, but differ in usually having dry, inedible fruit ( hence the name 'Barren Strawberry' for some species). Potentilla has leaves that are divided into five leaflets arranged palmately like the fingers of a hand. Some species have three leaflets, and others have up to 15 or more leaflets arranged pinnately. The five-petalled flowers are borne over a long period of time from spring to summer. The flowers are usually yellow, but color like white, pinkish or red can also be found. Its accessory fruit is usually dry but may be fleshy and strawberry-like, while the actual seeds are tiny nuts.
Potentilla species are used as food plants by larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) species, such as Grizzled Skippers. Some species of Potentilla are grown as ornamental plants, while some are used in herbalism.
Potentilla indica (Mock Strawberry, Indian Strawberry, False Strawberry) is native to eastern and southern Asia, and has been introduced to many areas as ornamental plant. It has foliage and fruit that are similar to the true strawberry, but can be distinguished by its yellow flowers, as opposed to the flowers of true strawberries which are white or pinkish. Its leaves are trifoliate, dark green and roughly veined beneath, often persisting through the winter. The plant spreads via creeping stolons, rooting and producing crowns at each node. Bright yellow flowers are borne in mid spring, follow by white or red fruits which are entirely covered with red seeds. The fruits are edible but they have no discernable taste.
Potentilla sterilis (Barren Strawberry) is a plant that look very much like the true strawberry or wild strawberry plants, but this plant is smaller and have smaller flower. Another difference is that at the end of a leaf, the last tooth is shorter than the two on either side. It doesn't fruit after the petals have fallen from a flower.
Potentilla glandulosa (Sticky Cinquefoil) is a native of western North America, where it is widespread and can be found in many types of habitat. It is an erect plant, can be small and tuftlike with a few centimeters high, or can be tall and slender with height of about one meter. The plant is usually coated in hair, giving the plant a sticky texture. The leaves are each divided into several leaflets, with one terminal leaflet and a few smaller one widely spaced on each side. The five-petaled flowers are borne in a cluster of 2-30 flowers, in variable size and color. The color can be white, pale yellow or gold. It is an important food for several species of mice, such as the western harvest mouse, cactus mouse, and California mouse.
Potentilla is easy to plant and trouble free. It grows best in full sun, in fertile and well-drained soil. Propagation is by seedin spring; divide in spring and greenwood cuttings in summer.