Ranunculus hispidus (Hispid Buttercup)
|Also known as:||Bristly Buttercup, Swamp Buttercup, Marsh Buttercup|
|Habitat:||part shade; moist woods, seeps, along streams|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 18 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FAC NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single flower at the end of a long, hairy but otherwise naked stalk that arises from some leaf axils in the upper part of the plant. Flowers are ¾ to 1¼ inches across with 5 shiny, yellow, generally oval petals and numerous yellow stamens surrounding a green center. The base of the petals is greenish with streaks that serve as nectar guides for visiting insects. The 5 yellowish to light green sepals behind the flower are shorter than the petals, by as much as half, and may be spreading or bent back away from the flower (reflexed).
Leaves and stem:
Both basal and alternate stem leaves are compound in groups of 3, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem, though some basal leaves may be simple lobed, especially the early growth. Leaflets are cleft or lobed, usually in 3 parts, up to 3 inches across and wide, with irregular teeth around the edges, on stalks covered in long hairs, and usually with a wedge-shaped base. The end leaflet is largest and basal leaves have the longest stalks. Leaves are hairy to varying degrees, especially along major veins on the underside. Stems are hairy. The plant grows erect or sprawling but rising at branch tips (decumbent), sometimes rooting at the nodes.
There are 2 varieties of Ranunculus hispidus in Minnesota: var. caricetorum, found throughout the state, was once considered a separate species, R. caricetorum. The other, var. nitidus, is less common in MN, restricted mostly to about the southern third of the state and was once known as R. septentrionalis. The differences between the two are primarily the shape of the seeds, with var. nitidus having a wide (to 1.2mm) rib/wing all around the edge, and var. caricetorum a narrow one (to .2mm). A more subtle and less reliable difference is whether the sepals are spreading (var. caricetorum) or bent back (either).
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- top view of Hispid Buttercup plants
- side view of Hispid Buttercup plant
- flower with spreading sepals (var. caricetorum)
- flower with reflexed sepals
- early spring growth
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and in Goodhue County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Anoka and Goodhue counties. Photo courtesy Keir Morse taken at Interstate State Park, Chisago County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?