Scientific name

Ranunculus L.

Common names

buttercup, water crowfoot



Could be confused with

Cabomba, Caltha, Hydrocotyle, Limnophila, Myriophyllum

Native distribution

cosmopolitan, the tropics

Species commonly cultivated

Ranunculus aquatilis L. (Africa, Europe, North America)

R. flagelliformis Sm. (Mexico and South America)

R. flammula L. (North Africa, Europe, North America)

R. limosella Kirk (New Zealand)

R. lingua L. (Asia, Europe)

R. peltatus Schrank

Adventive distribution

Ranunculus ficaria L., R. repens L., and R. acris L. are introduced into the United States from Europe.

Weed status

Ranunculus acris is listed as a noxious weed in Montana (United States).


submerged stem plant to emergent or terrestrial, stoloniferous rosette plant

Brief description

Annual or perennial. Stem variable, compact or elongate, erect or ascending; submerged aquatic species usually with elongate stems while emergent species often compact. Leaves highly variable, in a rosette or cauline, alternate or whorled; leaf blade linear to orbicular, lobed to palmately divided; segments of submerged leaves capillary. Inflorescence solitary or flowers in a cymose panicle. Flowers actinomorphic; sepals 5; petals (nectar leaves) 5, distinctive, rounded, yellow or white. Dispersal of fruit (nutlets) by water, possibly by animals.

Natural habitat

pond margins, along streams, often on wet ground

Additional comments

Ranunculus consists of 400 species, about 35 of which are aquatic.