Bush Cinquefoil


April 20, 1991|By Amalie Adler Ascher

Botanical name: Potentilla fruticosa

Pronunciation: po-ten-TILL-a

Family: Rosaceae (Rose)

Origin: Northern hemisphere

Class: Shrub

Display period: Late May through summer

Height: 1 to 4 feet

Environment: Sun, partial shade

Through thick and thin, the bush cinquefoil -- or buttercup bush as it is otherwise called -- blooms without letup from the time buds open in June until frost shuts production down. Few other shrubs offer that long a display. Added to that virtue is unshakable hardiness and resolute resistance to insects and disease.

The genus, Potentilla, (whose name derives from the Latin potens, meaning powerful, an illusion to the medicinal properties plants were believed to possess) encompasses a variety of species that also includes perennials. It's the shrub division, though, classed a P. fruticosa (the species name, taken from the Latin frutex, for shrub), that's being singled out for special notice.

Potentilla is highly regarded in the nursery trade (as a poll taken by American Nurseryman magazine a few years ago attests) for its dense growth, durability in harsh weather and relentless bloom even in the face of poor soil, heat and a low ration of water. Once established, the plant will return long years of service for routine care.

Although the individual flowers, which are similar to the single-form rose and appear in bright yellow, coral or white, aren't the sort to knock your socks off, collectively they bathe plants in a warm summer glow at a time when most other shrubs are green.


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