Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Subalpine Buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus)
- Family: Buttercup (Ranunculaceae)
- Flowering: March-June.
- Field Marks: This species is distinguished by having its 5 petals equalling or shorter than the sepals, by its shiny achenes, and by its usually smooth stems.
- Habitat: Along streams, low woods, in ditches, and in drier habitats.
- Habit: Annual herb with fibrous roots.
- Stems: Erect, branched or unbranched, usually smooth, up to 1 1/2 feet tall.
- Leaves: Basal and alternate, smooth; the basal ones simple, toothed and sometimes deeply lobed; the leaves on the stem toothed or toothless or divided into 3 or 5 lobes.
- Flowers: 1-several at the ends of the branches, yellow, up to 1/2 inch across, subtended by leafy bracts.
- Sepals: 5, green, up to 1/4 inch long, pointing downward.
- Petals: 5, yellow, free from each other, up to 1/6 inch long, equalling or shorter than the sepals.
- Stamens: Numerous.
- Pistils: Numerous, free from each other, smooth.
- Fruits: Nearly round heads of short-beaked achenes; each achene more or less round in outline, smooth, shiny, 1/10-1/8 inch long, with a minute beak to one side.
- Notes: The common name listed for this species is inappropriate. It is usually known as the small-flowered crowfoot. The achenes are eaten by wildlife.
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