On the rocky coast, the shrubby cinquefoil can grow as a shrub a foot or two tall—or as a small mound, a spreading mat, or simply a few stems rising from a crack in the ground. Adapting its growth form helps the shrubby cinquefoil inhabit a range of environments, from crannies on sloping ledges to rims on windy cliffs. Hairs protect young cinquefoil leaves from cold and wind and, while old branches turn woody and gray-brown, young branches are softly haired and red.
The shrubby cinquefoil’s blossoms appear at the tips of young branches, where each blossom is followed by a dry fruit. At the height of summer, long-lived older shrubs often display generous splashes of yellow, while tender sprigs rising from crevices showcase each flower and fruit against the rock.