Ranunculus abortivus (Little-leaf Buttercup)
|Also known as:||Kidney-leaf Buttercup, Small-flower Crowfoot|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; open woods|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are at the end of naked stalks that branch out at the top of the plant. Each flower is about ¼ inch across, 5 pale yellow petals and a ring of yellow stamens around a bright green bulbous center. There are 5 round green sepals between the petals that are about as long as the petals. One plant has a few to several flowers.
Leaves are both basal and alternately attached up the stem. Basal leaves are up to 2 inches long and 2½ inches wide, round to kidney shaped, have scalloped edges and stalks up to 3 inches long. Leaves attached on the lower part of the stem are often lobed in 3 or 5 parts, also with scalloped edges, and shorter stalked. Leaves at the top near the flowers are mostly long and narrow with smooth edges and stalkless or nearly so, but may be lobed. Stems are green and hairless.
There are several members of the buttercup family with small yellow flowers, but the leaf shape is pretty unique for each species. The wide shape variation between the basal and top leaves makes Little-leaf Buttercup pretty easy to identify. The basal leaves are the first thing to sprout in the spring and resemble those of some violets.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?