The Humble Cinquefoil
For many of us crocuses signal the beginning of spring but there is another plant that is ready for the spotlight! One-flowered cinquefoil (Potentilla uniflora) is actually one of the first plants to show signs of life in my yard. This low growing, clumping plant brings a splash of sunshine in spring with bright yellow flowers. While beautiful purple crocuses steal the spotlight for spring flower hunters, these little plants are busy providing a first food source for bees who have just emerged from their winter homes. These plants are perfect for the front of sunny garden beds or in rock gardens. They can handle a bit of foot traffic so planting along walking paths is also an option. Next time you are out and about on unpaved paths, take a look at your feet, you may see the tell tale cinquefoil leaves sprouting up.
Alberta is home to many cinquefoil species that bloom throughout the season providing food for our native bees along with honey bees. From the tiny one-flowered cinquefoil to the more familiar shrubby potentilla, these underappreciated plants make a great addition to the native garden!