poetry and prose about place

Silvery Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea L.)

with 11 comments

Last month, whenever I went to get the mail, I was waylaid by a little plant sprawling next to the row of boxes.  He was so charming, once I forgot to get my mail because I was examining his flowers and leaves!  There should be a sign saying ‘No Loitering’.

The plant was Silvery Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea L.).  As its name suggests, Silvery Cinquefoil is covered with fine silver hairs, giving it a downy appearance.  It has fine-toothed, five-fingered leaves, palmately compound, and five-petalled yellow flowers.

I have always liked the various species of Potentilla, interesting for the variety of their leaves.  You can see how diverse these shapes are in a page from Roland and Smth’s Flora of Nova Scotia. The reddish pressed leaf in the scanned book, for example, is Silverweed (Potentilla Anserina L.).  My post for July 13, 2012, ‘coastal barren, coastal bog’, shows the Three-toothed Cinquefoil (Potentilla tridentata Ait.) .

various leaf shapes of Potentilla in a page of The Flora of Nova Scotia (A.E. Roland and E.C. Smith, Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, 1969) … the pressed leaf is from Potentilla Anserina or Silverweed, a coastal species of Potentilla.





metal leaf and yellow,

he leans on the post-box

palms extended

potent, persuasive

a bit of a thug

      want your mail?

      pay me,

      in silver



©  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

July 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

11 Responses

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  1. Love the poem, Jane. It made me chuckle, picturing the plant as a thug. 🙂



    July 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    • Hi Robin. I’m glad you could ‘see’ the image. Every plant has its season, and he has moved on, so now I can get my mail without fear. Jane


      jane tims

      August 1, 2012 at 8:08 am

  2. I like the poem; the hint of being a bit of a thug made me smile.


    Carol Steel

    July 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    • Hi Carol. It’s a pretty plant, but for some reason the image of a bully came through. Jane


      jane tims

      July 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

  3. I went out this morning to pick a leaf… and this will show you how faulty my memory can be sometimes. It appears that I have “simplex”… with five leaves… The leaves on this one I picked are a little fuller than the picture….but it looks most like that as I hold it in my hands. So I think this impresses me that I should be careful with what I THINK I know when gathering things from the wild. 🙂



    July 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    • Hi. Memory is tricky with plants. I see something in the field and I am sure I don’t need a specimen, that I can identify the plant from memory. When I get back home, the key characteristic is always some obscure feature I didn’t think to look at. At least I know what to look for the next time! Jane


      jane tims

      July 30, 2012 at 7:16 am

  4. I shall have to go out tomorrow and check to see what potentilla I have growing … I love it when it comes up unexpectedly. And there are several spots that it grows quite freely. From your book it appears that (if my memory serves me correctly) I have pectinata…. I’ll check it out.



    July 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    • Hi Merrill. Let me know what you find… Jane


      jane tims

      July 28, 2012 at 8:00 am

      • I never got in the garden today. We went to the Farmer’s Market this morning and got home before rain. Have to wait till tomorrow…



        July 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm

  5. Like the poem Jane. Also, I like the way you use the real life plant on top of the scanned illustration.



    July 27, 2012 at 9:45 am

    • Hi. Thanks. That leaf of Silverweed was picked almost 30 years ago on Grand Manan! Jane


      jane tims

      July 27, 2012 at 9:10 pm

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