A low perennial with stems that at first are erect, but soon spread out and root at the tips. It often forms loose colonies. Flowers yellow, on long peduncles arising from a leaf node, with rounded petals interspersed by linear sepals. Blooms April–June. Leaves 5-divided, oblanceolate, toothed, with the leaflets often curled inward when young.
Similar species: There are 7 species of Potentilla recorded for Missouri, 2 of which are introduced. This species is distinguished by its solitary, long-stalked flowers; stem leaves often produced in clusters on short side branches; and the central leaflet usually twice as long as wide or wider.