As summer progresses, the glossy green leaves of three-toothed cinquefoils spread onto the rock from thin-soiled crevices and mossy crannies. From June to August, airy clusters of small white blossoms on red stems cap the low-growing leaf mounds. Each blossom has five petals separated by five pale green sepals, and in its center a wavy spray of long red-capped stamens.
Three-toothed cinquefoil leaves grow in groups of three. As the name suggests, the leaves have three teeth at their tips. They are also ‘evergreen’ and, if exposed to enough sunlight, turn deep red in fall. Long after the cinquefoil’s flowers have faded, the leaves glow against rain-streaked rock and early snow.