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This rather ordinary-looking plant resembles Potentilla recta (Sulfur Cinquefoil), an introduced plant, in its erect habit and overall appearance. However, Prairie Cinquefoil has white or cream flowers and hairy pinnate leaves, while Sulfur Cinquefoil has light yellow flowers and less hairy palmate leaves. When ultra-blue light is made visible through a special filter, patterns are revealed in the flowers of many cinquefoils that are not apparent to the human eye, but perceptible by most pollinating insects. These ultra-violet reflecting patterns help the flowers stand out from the background, and may function as nectar guides. Thus, the flowers are colored a combination of white and bee-blue. Return


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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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