Ranunculus cymbalaria (Alkali Buttercup)
|Also known as:||Seaside Crowfoot|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; muddy, brackish areas, salt marshes, wet ditches|
|Bloom season:||May - August|
|Plant height:||2 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are about 1/3 inch across with 5 yellow petals, 5 yellowish sepals nearly as long as the petals and a ring of yellow stamens surrounding the green center. A plant has 1 to a few flowers branching off at the top of the stem and often has multiple flowering stems.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are basal, to 1 inch long and ¾ inch wide, with stalks up to about 3 inches long but shorter than the flowering stems. The shape is oval, kidney-shaped, or somewhat triangular with a rounded tip and irregular notches or teeth around the edges, and sometimes lobed in 3 parts. The leaf base may be squared or more heart-shaped. Leaves are hairless and stalks hairless or sparsely hairy. It often creates dense colonies from prostrate stems (stolons), rooting at the nodes.
Alkali Buttercup, sometimes known as Cyrtorhyncha cymbalaria ssp. alpina, is on the endangered or threatened list in several states, including Wisconsin, but not in Minnesota. It's easily distinguished from other buttercups with small yellow flowers by its short stature, the uniquely shaped basal leaves and its typically muddy and often saline habitat, though it may also be found on the rocky north shore of Lake Superior. At Fort Snelling State Park, a population is at the base of an I494 support pillar where storm water runoff collects.
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- Alkali Buttercup plant in the mud
- plants from the side
- a colony of Alkali Buttercup
- Alkali Buttercup with Silverweed Cinquefoil
- Alkali Buttercup on the rocky North Shore
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Fort Snelling State Park, Hennepin County, and on the north shore of Lake Superior, Lake County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Polk County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?