Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of numerous herbs or shrubs of the genus Potentilla, of the North Temperate Zone, having pinnately or palmately compound leaves and yellow, white, or red flowers with many pistils.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of many shrubs and herbs of the genus Potentilla; the cinquefoils

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A large genus of rosaceous plants, type of the tribe Potentilleæ, characterized by the numerous pistils on the dry receptacle, styles not lengthened after flowering, four or five bracts below the calyx, and many stamens in a single row.
  • n. [lowercase] A plant of this genus.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. chiefly perennial northern hemisphere herbs and shrubs: cinquefoil

Etymologies

Medieval Latin, garden valerian, from Latin potēns, potent-, present participle of posse, to be able; see potent.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • By the little bridge itself the turf is spangled with yellow quadrants of tormentil – a miniature heathland potentilla the woody, red, astringent rhizome of which was much prized by the apothecaries.

    Country diary: Barmouth

  • Forget the part about comparing post-modernists in academia to Jews under Nazi rule or closet homosexuals, the idea that Ophelia Benson was actually blaming him for the death of ‘potentilla’ shows a remarkable willingness to make himself the victim.

    Steve Fuller shows us what he's made of - The Panda's Thumb

  • At first the immediate landscape was beautified by wild flowers; the blue of the harebells was exquisitely set off by masses of golden St. John's wort, and on our walk to The Rocks we would trample down meadow-sweet, marsh mallow, bird's foot trefoil, and potentilla.

    Lines in Pleasant Places Being the Aftermath of an Old Angler

  • Ishmael sat upon the dry grass, where the tiny yellow stars of the creeping potentilla gleamed up at him through the soft dusk, and lay almost too idle for thought.

    Secret Bread

  • The mountain dock, mountain dandelion, and potentilla seldom fail to appear later.

    The Mountain that was 'God' Being a Little Book About the Great Peak Which the Indians Named 'Tacoma' but Which is Officially Called 'Rainier'

  • Here are cress, blue violets, potentilla, and, in the damp of the willow fence-rows, white false asphodels.

    The Land of Little Rain

  • In size there is the difference between the huge _terminalia_ towering up 200 feet high and the tiny little potentilla; between the atlas moth 12 inches in spread and the hardly discernible midges; between the elephant, massive enough to trample its way through the densest forest, and the humble little mouse peeping out of its hole in the ground.

    The Heart of Nature or, The Quest for Natural Beauty

  • Edwinia, with its attractive waxy white flowers, and potentilla, with bloom of gold, are shrubs which lend a charm to much of the mountain-section.

    Wild Life on the Rockies

  • The alpine spiraea grows here also and blossoms profusely with potentilla, erigeron, eriogonum, pentstemon, solidago, and an interesting species of onion, and four or five species of grasses and sedges.

    The Yosemite

  • Deer Bay, shut in from every wind by gray-bearded trees and fringed with rose bushes, rubus, potentilla, asters, etc.

    Travels in Alaska

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