USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

9. Ranunculaceae, the Buttercup Family

4. Ranunculus L. -- Buttercup, crowfoot

10. Ranunculus sceleratus L. -- Cursed crowfoot


Weedy annual, glabrous or rarely hirsute, 1-5 dm tall or the stem to 10 dm long when submersed. Stems erect, inflated and hollow, sparsely to profusely branched, especially above. Leaves basal and cauline, the basal leaves often longer-petioled and less deeply dissected than the cauline ones, often floating when submersed; blades deeply 3-parted or divided, broadly truncate or cordate at the base, distally rounded, 1-6 cm long, 3-8 cm wide, the primary lobes or divisions lobed or divided, the ultimate lobes obtuse to rounded; petioles 2-15 cm long or much longer when submersed; stipular bases dilated, membranous, 5-12 mm long. Flowers numerous; sepals 5, yellowish-green, reflexed, 2-3 mm long, deciduous with the petals, glabrous; petals 5, light yellow, fading white, 3-5 mm long; stamens usually 10-25; receptacle 1.5-3 mm long in flower, 3-10 mm long in fruit. Achenes 40-300 in a cylindric-ovoid or rarely globose head 4-11 mm long, 3.5-7 mm thick; achene body obovoid, 0.8-1.2 mm long, glabrous, obscurely keeled on the margins, somewhat corky-thickened around the edges; beak minute and blunt. Jun--Sep. Shores, stream banks, mud flats, wet meadows, ditches, marshes and other wet places; very common; (Circumboreal, in N.Amer. s to FL, AR, LA, TX, NM and CA).

Two varieties of R. sceleratus are found in the northern Great Plains. R. sceleratus var. multifidus Nutt. is prevalent throughout. It has the achenes smooth in the central area of each face except for pinprick depressions surrounding the smooth area. The var. sceleratus has achenes cross-corrugated or reticulate in the central area of each face. The latter is more common in the e part.

GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


Previous Species -- Ranunculus pensylvanicus L. f. -- Bristly crowfoot
Return to Family -- Ranunculaceae - The Buttercup Family
Next Species -- Ranunculus subrigidus W.B. Drew -- White water-crowfoot

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/plants/vascplnt/species/ranuscel.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 02-Feb-2013 06:46:25 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww55]