Here, we report development and characterization of 11 new polymorphic microsatellite loci isolated from the genome of Potentilla fruticosa L. (Rosaceae). Polymorphisms of each locus were screened in 12–15 individuals from geographically separated populations. The number of alleles per locus ranged from five to eleven. The observed and expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.22 to 0.35 and 0.38 to 0.53, respectively. These eleven loci were also surveyed for 11 individuals from its sister species, Potentilla glabra L. (Rosaceae). Ten of them were successfully amplified and allelic diversities were also highly polymorphic. Seven loci totally in both species exhibited significant departure from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium probably due to excessive homozygosity and the population structure within samples. No linkage disequilibrium was detected among all paired loci comparisons. These results demonstrate that these microsatellite markers can be used to characterise the intra- and inter-specific genetic diversity, and will be useful to study the population genetics and speciation history of the two closely related shrubs.