Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Ranunculus carolinianus DC.
- Family: Butter-cup (Ranunculaceae)
- Flowering: March-June
- Field Marks: This species is recognized by its deeply divided leaves, its yellow petals 1/3-1/2 inch long, and its short, reflexed sepals up to 1/4 inch long.
- Habitat: Low woods, damp thickets, shores.
- Habit: Perennial herb with thick fibrous roots and creeping stolons, usually rooting at the nodes.
- Stems: Trailing to ascending, branched, appressed-hairy to nearly smooth, up to 2 1/2 feet long.
- Leaves: Alternate and basal, all alike, deeply 3-parted or even divided into 3 leaflets, the terminal segment smooth or appressed-hairy, borne on smooth or appressed-hairy stalks, the uppermost leaves progressively smaller.
- Flowers: 1-10 per stem, bright yellow, up to 1 1/4 inches across, on smooth or appressed-hairy stalks up to 2 1/2 inches long.
- Sepals: 5, greenish yellow, free from each other, narrowly ovate, pointed at the tip, turned downward, smooth or finely hairy, up to 1/4 inch long.
- Petals: 5, bright yellow, free from each other, often waxy-looking, oblong to obovate, 1/3-1/2 inch long.
- Stamens: 40 or more.
- Pistils: Several, each with a superior ovary.
- Fruits: Achenes borne in spherical heads 1/3-3/5 inch in diameter; achenes obovoid to nearly spherical, flattish, up to 1/4 inch long, smooth, with a high, broad keel near the edge, the beak straight, up to 1/10 inch long.
- Notes: Gleason and Cronquist consider this plant to be R. hispidus var. nitidus. The achenes are eaten by waterfowl.
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