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All About Shrubby Cinquefoil

Do you have mounds of dense flower bushes in your yard?

Are these plants taking over your property–and seemingly doing so overnight? If so, there’s a chance you may have Shrubby Cinquefoil on your hands!

Also known as Dasiphora fruticosa, Shrubby Cinquefoil is an invasive weed that can take over your lawn and garden if not controlled.

Continue reading to learn about this weed, including how to identify it, how it can harm the plants on your property, and how to remove it safely. You’ll also learn about a few helpful benefits of this plant.

Flowering shrub shrubby cinquefoil Dasiphora fruticosa close-up

How To Identify Shrubby Cinquefoil

As the name suggests, Shrubby Cinquefoil is a dense shrub that grows 2-4 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. It has small blue-green pinnate leaves, textured bark, and many thin branches that stand upright.

This weed is a member of the rose family. It’s most easily identified by its dainty 1.5-inch flowers, which cover the entirety of the plant. These saucer-shaped flowers have five petals and can be shades of white, yellow, orange, red, or pink.

Because of its flora may resemble a flower bush to those who don’t know it’s a weed–but don’t be fooled by its good looks. This plant is a prolific, noxious weed with a root system that essentially smothers most plants it comes into contact with.

History Of Shrubby Cinquefoil

Shrubby Cinquefoil Goldteppich yellow flower - Latin name - Potentilla fruticosa Goldteppich

Shrubby Cinquefoil is native to northern parts of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia. The weed is now commonly found across all western states between the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and the Northeast.

Shrubby Cinquefoil is formally known by its genus, Dasiphora fruticosa, and earlier as Potentilla fruticosa. In Latin, “potentilla” translates to powerful, a testament to the weed’s hardiness. “Cinquefoil” refers to the plant having five leaflets and five-petaled flowers.

In addition to these names, it’s also referred to as bush cinquefoil, shrubby potentilla, bush potentilla, golden hardhack, yellow rose, and widdy.

Why Is Shrubby Cinquefoil Considered A Weed?

Dasiphora fruticosa (syn. Potentilla fruticosa) or Shrubby Cinquefoil. Cultivar with pale yellow flowers

Shrubby Cinquefoil is considered a weed because of its growth patterns. The plant is considerably fast-growing, especially if it receives direct sunlight.

While this weed will grow in your garden and yard, it’s common to see this weed in fields, forest edges, grasslands, marshes, meadows, old riverbeds, pastures, and prairies, and along roadsides and railroad tracks.

Shrubby Cinquefoil is not edible to most wildlife and livestock, which allows it to flourish even more. Its high tannin content gives it a severely tart and unpleasant flavor. However, this weed attracts insects like butterflies, bees, and lygus bugs.

An identifying characteristic of this weed is that it’s quite resilient. This plant can withstand cold temperatures, drought, and even poor soil with a higher salt content and dryness. These weeds are deciduous, perennial self-pollinators and can live up to 15 years.

Shrubby Cinquefoil blooms from June through September. In the winter, the plant loses its leaves and resembles rolls of tumbleweed.

Issues and Potential Damage Caused By Shrubby Cinquefoil

Shrubby Cinquefoil is often used in landscaping to cover sloped areas and hedge. However, if these weeds aren’t planted correctly, tamed, and pruned, they can spread to the rest of your garden and affect other plants.

Keep on reading to learn how this weed spreads and how to eliminate it.

How Does It Spread?

The root system of Shrubby Cinquefoil is credited for the plant’s robust nature, but it’s also the reason why it’s so invasive.

Each plant grows from a one-foot-long main taproot. Each singular taproot produces up to 15 runner roots, or slim woody roots that grow along the ground.

Each runner root can produce up to 20 rooting nodes, or vertical branches, which grow to form the shrubs we see. These rooting nodes can also grow their own taproots, and so on.

With a root system like this, Shrubby Cinquefoil can quickly grow to cover an area as large as 100 square feet in a single season.

Despite its status as a weed, it’s is often used in landscaping. However, gardeners that do so must cage or stake and tie these plants early on to prevent them from smothering other nearby greenery.

How To Get Rid Of Shrubby Cinquefoil

If you see Shrubby Cinquefoil spreading on your property, it’s best to tackle it sooner rather than later.

The complex and multifaceted root system makes these weeds hard to fully remove, control, and permanently eradicate. To do so, you’ll need to eliminate each root, which can take a good while, depending on your yard.

There are only two ways to remove this pesky weed: by hand or with weed killer.

Natural Weed Removal Methods

If you don’t have an overwhelming amount of Shrubby Cinquefoil growing, you can control it by regularly gardening, weeding, and pruning.

This weed isn’t a fan of moist soil, so maintaining this consistency can naturally deter the weed from growing.

If you pull weeds by hand, we suggest watering two days prior, making pulling easier. The easier it is to pull, the more likely you’ll be able to remove the entire taproot–and eliminate the plant. You can also use gardening tools to make the process easier.

Mowing over them isn’t efficient because you’ll only cut off part of the plant and leave behind the main taproot. Because of this, mowing over Shrubby Cinquefoil is merely a cosmetic refresh, and the weed will return in a few days.

You can also check out our handy guide on how to keep weeds out of your garden to learn more.

Sprays and Weed Killers

Weed killers and herbicides should be a last-resort option. Spraying these chemicals on Shrubby Cinquefoil can unintentionally kill off neighboring plants. If you decide to use weed killer, read the directions closely, as every product has different requirements.

Even though herbicides may prove effective, it may need to be applied several times to remove this stubborn weed.

Does Shrubby Cinquefoil Have Good Uses?

Even though this weed is invasive, it has many good uses, which include medicinal, skin care, and environmental benefits.

Summer Flowering Bright Golden Yellow Flowers of a Shrubby Cinquefoil Shrub (Potentilla fruticosa 'King Cup') Growing in a Herbaceous Border in a Country Cottage Garden in Rural Devon, England, UK

Medicinal Benefits

Shrubby Cinquefoil roots and leaves offer myriad healing benefits and have antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, and mild febrifugal properties.

Shrubby Cinquefoil can make a soothing herbal tea by mixing one tablespoon of fresh or dried roots or leaves with a cup of boiling water.

This tea can help relieve pain and swelling from a toothache, bleeding gums, or sore throat. It can also help lessen stomach cramps and intestinal inflammation, reduce menstrual pain, and even serve as a laxative.

You can also use the roots and leaves to create a topical solution to control pain and discomfort. Use it on acne, boils, rashes, and insect stings to relieve joint pain, arthritis, gout, and sciatica. You can also use it on bleeding wounds or as an eye wash to prevent infection.

Skincare Benefits

The tannins in Shrubby Cinquefoil that cause it to taste severely tart are coincidentally great for skin care. The tannins act as a skin-tightening agent and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

It’s possible to make essential oil using Shrubby Cinquefoil, which you may combine with lotions or skin care routines.

Environmental Benefits

The fibrous root structure of Shrubby Cinquefoil helps keep soil intact to prevent soil erosion. The plant is especially used to help stabilize soil on sloped land or banks.

Shrubby Cinquefoil is also an important nectar and pollen plant for many insects, including bees, butterflies, flies, spiders, and wasps. Its seeds serve food for birds and other small mammals, thus playing an important role in the food chain.

Shrubby Cinquefoil Frequently Asked Questions

Blooming cultivar shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa 'Goldfinger') in the summer garden

Is Shrubby Cinquefoil edible?

Yes, the roots and leaves of Shrubby Cinquefoil are edible. You can add these plant parts to salads or cook them to make an herbal tea blend.

What is the most popular kind of Shrubby Cinquefoil?

Goldfinger potentilla is one of the most popular Shrubby Cinquefoil types among gardeners.

Wrapping up on Shrubby Cinquefoil

Shrubby Cinquefoil is a special weed because some gardeners use it to decorate their gardens and lawns. Although its dainty flowers are delightful and prevalent, knowing how this pesky weed can affect other greenery on your property when it isn’t properly controlled is important.

Whether you’re a new or experienced gardener, we recommend learning about common weeds and how to manage them for the best possible outcome.

If you feel like you need to learn more about these pesky garden tenants, check out our weeds page to learn all about different weed varieties, treatment options, and surprising information.