Villous Cinquefoil is common in cracks of upper beach boulders, sea cliffs and occasionally inland at high elevations on rocky slopes and tundra. Growing in clumps 6-8" tall the stems are covered with short hairs. The tri-foliate leaves have toothed edges and are covered with silky hairs above and gray, wooly hairs below. The large yellow flowers have 5 petals with an orange spot at their base.
Potentilla comes from the Latin word potens, "powerful and illus "litte", in reference to the slight medicinal properties of silverweed (Potentilla anserine). The species name villosa means "villous" or "hairy". Cinquefoil comes from the French cinq and feuilles or the Latin cinque foliola, both meaning "five leaves".