Sibbaldiopsis tridentata (Aiton) Rydb.
Potentilla retusa O.F. Müll. nom. utique rej.
Sibbaldia tridentata (Aiton) Paule & Soják
Potentilla tridentata Aiton
Three-toothed cinquefoil is a diminutive evergreen plant with a fondness for acid soils and alpine and subalpine habitats: cliffs, ledges, grasses, meadows and fields. All the photos here, at least when I wrote this article, were found on mountains. It is a North American native.
Plants: Plants form low, evergeen mats, 1-8" (2.5-20 cm) tall. Lower stems are woody and gray, while upper stems are light green to red in color.
Leaves: Leaves are alternate and elliptic. Each leaf is comprised of three leaflets arranged in a palmate (palm-like) cluster. Each leaflet is up to 1½" (3.8 cm) × ½" (1.3 cm), with three teeth at the end. It is glossy dark green on top, and light green beneath. Lower leaves are attached via stems, while upper leaves may be directly attached. In sunny areas, leaves turn deep red in the fall.
Flowers: White, ¼-½" (8.4-12 mm) around, with 5 petals and 5 pale green sepals between. Flowers often appear in dense clusters. Petals are oval or egg-shaped, and often wrinkly. An exhuberant spray of stamens almost as long as the petals explodes from the center. Flowers appear from June to August.
Fruits: The sepals at the base of each flower dry up, folding around the developing tiny seeds.
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata at Illinois Wildflowers
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata at Minnesota Wildflowers
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 7 Sep 2020.