Ranunculus pensylvanicus (Pennsylvania Buttercup)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bristly Buttercup, Bristly Crowfoot
Genus:Ranunculus
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; wet fields, ditches, marshes, along shores
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flower] Flowers are at the ends of branching stems and stalks that arise from the leaf axils near the top of the plant. Individual flowers are 1/8 to ¼ inch across with 5 shiny yellow rounded petals. There is a ring of yellow-tipped stamens around a bulbous yellowish center that turns bright green with maturity. The 5 green sepals are longer than the petals, covered in long hairs on the outer surface, and typically bend back away from the flower (reflexed).

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in 3's, with leaflets (usually) deeply divided into 3 wedge-shaped to elliptical segments that are further lobed, notched and/or coarsely toothed. Leaflets are up to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem, and are hairy. Attachment is alternate.

[photo of stem] Leaves near the base of the plant have long stalks that sheath the stem. These often wither away early. The stem and leaf stalks are both densely covered in stiff hairs, becoming more sparsely hairy with age.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] The flower center expands to a cylindrical seed head about ½ inch long. Seeds are tear drop shaped, flattened, with a narrow rib or wing around the edge and a mostly straight beak.

Notes:

A common wetland plant, Pennsylvania Buttercup most closely resembles Macoun's Buttercup (Ranunculus macounii), which has very similar leaves and densely hairy stems, but much larger flowers—about ½ inch across—and sepals shorter than the petals. R. macounii is also limited to the northwest counties where R. pensylvanicus is found throughout the state.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Must have book for 2014: Pollinators of Native Plants

Where to buy native seed and plants ↓

Map of native plant purveyors in the upper midwest

  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Itasca Ladyslipper Farm - Native orchids, container grown
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake and Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Parks, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.



(required)




Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.