BSBI logo BSBI Species Accounts Archive

Potentilla erecta


Name: Potentilla erecta (L.) Raeusch.

Synonyms: Potentilla silvestris Neck., Potentilla tormentilla Stokes, Tormentilla erecta

Common name: Tormentil 

Potentilla erecta


There are several similar members of the Potentilla genus, including P. reptans and P. anglica. Potentilla erecta also hybridises with other members of the genus, producing several hybrids (Matfield, Jones & Ellis, 1970):
P. x suberecta (a hybrid of P. erecta and P. anglica)
P. x mixta (a hybrid of P. reptans and P. anglica) (literature references to P. x italica pertain to this group)
There are also subspecies: Potentilla erecta subsp. erecta (L.) Raeusch and Potentilla erecta subsp. strictissima (Zimmeter) A.J. Richards. The latter appears to be unevenly recorded in the British isles (see below).


Widespread and abundant throughout the British Isles.  Absent from the Wash.  Very common on grasslands, heaths, and moors, avoiding chalk (Rose, 1981).

BSBI Hectad Map 

1. Potentilla erecta

Click on the map to view full-size on the BSBI Maps Scheme website.



2. Potentilla erecta ssp. strictissima

Click on the map to view full-size on the BSBI Maps Scheme website. 




Origin: native (Natural History Museum, 2010)
Rarity: not rare in Britain
Threat: it is listed as a species of Least Concern (Cheffings & Farrell, 2005)


Perennial, flowering from June - September.
NVC Communities: M25 Potentilla erecta mire as well as M4, M5, M8, M10, M13, M14, M17, M22, M24, M26, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6, H7, H8, H9, H10, H12, H14, H15, H17, H18, H20, H21 and H22 (Elkington et al., 2001).
The Tormentil Mining Bee, Andrena tarsata and its cleptoparasite Nomada roberjeotiana are strongly associated with P. erecta as well as other Potentilla species (Edwards & Broad, 2005). A. tarsata is a BAP priority species, (UKBAP, 2007) and N. roberjeotiana is currently listed as Rare / Red List (JNCC, 2010). Both species are considered to be likely in decline (Baldock, 2008).

Further Work 

There is currently a study being undertaken on A. tarsata and N. roberjeotiana, investigating the status and distribution of both species and observations of their autecology. Part of the study is an ongoing appeal for records of the species.  Anyone who has records of the species can submit them by emailing  The species can be identified by (in the female) a tridentate mandible and (in the male) by the pattern of its yellow clypeus.  Additional information can be found at: .


Andrena tarsata

Andrena tarsata

Andrena tarsata mandible

Andrena tarsata mandible

Andtena tarsata male clypeus

Andtena tarsata male clypeus

Baldock, D.W. (2008) The Bees of Surrey. Woking: Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Cheffings, C. and Farrell, L. (eds) (2005) The Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain [online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 November 2010].

Elkington, T. Dayton, N., Jackson, D.L. and Strachan, I.M. (2001) National Vegetation Classification Field Guide to Mires and Heaths. Peterborough: JNCC.

Edwards, R. and Broad, G. (2005) Provisional atlas of the aculeate Hymenoptera of Britain and Ireland - Part 5. 8 vols. St Ives: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Harold, B. (Née Matfield) (1988) Plant Crib: Potentilla [online].  Available from: [Accessed 19 November 2010].

Matfield, B., Jones, J.K., and Ellis, J.R. (1970) Natural and Experimental Hybridization in Potentilla. New Phytologist, 69: 171-186 Natural History Museum (2010) Checklist of British Native Plants [online]. [Accessed 20 November 2010]

Rose, F. (2006) The Wild Flower Key. London: Penguin. pp. 258-259 UK Butterflies (2010a) Nectar Sources [online]. [Accessed 18 November 2010]


Bowers, M. (2010). Species account: Potentilla erecta. Botanical Society of the British Isles,