What may be sheep cinquefoil as seen atop Baldy Mountain, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness............July 1, 2010. There is a proposal to call the plants from this site Potentilla darrachensis.
Varying cinquefoil is a low, ascending perennial with pinnately compound, greenish leaves. The herbage may be sparsely haired to nearly glabrous. The 12 or more leaflets are deeply and unevenly cut intl linear to oblong lobes.
The inflorescence is an open cyme of 2- 7 yellow flowers. The calyx or hypanthium is bowl-shaped and rarely more than 1 cm in diameter. Each of the 5 petals is obcordate and roughly 1-2 cm longer than the sepals. There are usually 20 stamens and numerous pistils.
Varying cinquefoil is similar to Brewer's cinquefoil (Potentilla breweri) with which it hybridizes, but the latter plant is grayish white and silky villous in herbage, and generally has 11 or fewer, divergent leaflets.
Varying cinquefoil may be found in rocky, moist meadows, open ridges, and barren slopes from mid-altitudes to above timberline.
Varying cinquefoil may be found at high elevation in souh-central Oregon and possibly in the Wallowa Mts. of northeast Oregon.
-Steen's Mountain cinquefoil as seen at the Kiger Gorge Viewpoint, Steens Mt.......June 24, 2000. The similar Brewer's cinquefoil (Potentilla breweri / Potentilla drummondii var. breweri) may be found at the same locations, but tends to be grayer than the plants seen here. Hybrids are often seen between the two species where they do occur together.