florida Early Detection Network


Creeping buttercup


Ranunculus repens L.


Buttercup family


Ranunculus repens




Flowers Close-up

Incursion II

Leaf Close-up


Synonyms: None


Botanical Glossary

Ranunculus repens is an herbaceous perennial that usually creeps along the ground. The non-flowering, arching, creeping stems form roots at the nodes. The plant as a whole is usually hirsute, though it can be glabrate. The leaves are 3-parted and the terminal division is stalked. The divisions are broadly ovate to subrotund in shape. They are also cleft or lobed, often having sharp teeth along the margins. The apex of the leaves is obtuse to acuminate. The leaves measure 1-8.5 cm (0.4-3.3 in.) long and 1.5-10 cm (0.6-4 in.) wide. The petioles are long and pubescent, measuring 1.25-25 cm (0.5-10 in.). The flowers of Ranunculus repens are bright yellow and appear in May to July. They are about 2.5 cm (1 in.) across and have 5-7 obovately shaped petals that exceed the spreading sepals. Each of the petals measures 8-15 mm (0.3-0.6 in.) in length. The receptacle of the flower is usually hispid, but may rarely be glabrous. The fruits are spherical achenes that measure 2.5-3.5 mm (0.1 in.) in diameter. These achenes have sharp, narrow margins and are tipped with a short, curved beak. Page References Bailey 388, Crow & Hellquist 57, Fernald 654, Gleason & Cronquist 56, Holmgren 54, Magee & Ahles 513, Newcomb 242, Peterson & McKenny 130. See reference section below for full citations.


Ranunculus spp., Caltha palustris L. (marsh marigold) Caltha palustris lacks petals, and only has sepals. The fruits of C. palustris are follicular, compared with the achenes of Ranunculus repens.


Ranunculus repens spreads locally by means of its creeping stolons. It also produces seeds which are mechanically dispersed.


Ranunculus repens is native to North Africa, the Middle East to China and Japan, and most of Europe, from Iceland to Italy and Portugal to Turkey. In the United States this plant has been reported from every state except North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida. This plant is present in all the states of New England.


It is not really known how Ranunculus repens made its way into New England. It may have come from Europe with agricultural materials, since it is a common plant in fields.


Abandoned Field, Edge, Open Disturbed Area, Pasture, Roadside, Wet Meadow, Yard or Garden. Ranunculus repens occurs most commonly in rich, damp soil, but can also be found in moist sand or gravel.


Ranunculus repens can form large monocultures that crowd out native plants, especially in coastal headlands. It may be overlooked because it is often mistaken for native buttercups.


Plant Conservation Alliance Fact sheet including management information


Documentation required: A specific photograph or mounted snippet of the plant with stolons or leaves. Best time for documentation: Spring, summer.


Integrated Taxonomic Information System Taxonomic information

PLANTS Database General information and map

Flora of North America Online Description, history of introduction and map

Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide Photographs and description


Bailey, L.H. 1949. Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan, New York.

Carr, G.W., J.V. Yugovic and K.E. Robinson. 1992. Environmental weed invasions in Victoria. Conservation and management implications. Department of Conservation and Environment, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Crow, G.E. and C.B. Hellquist. 2000. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Northeastern North America. Vol 1. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. Doust, L.L. 1981. Population dynamics and local specialization in a clonal perennial (Ranunculus repens): 1. The dynamics of ramets in contrasting habitats. Journal of Ecology 69: 743-756.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th ed. American Book Co., Boston.

Flora of North America Association ed. 2000. Flora of North America vol. 3. Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York.

Gleason, H.A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York.

Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Holm, L.G., J.V. Pancho, J.P. Herberger and D.L. Plucknett. 1979. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA.

Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Harris, S.M., D.J. Doohan, R.J. Gordon, K.I.N. Jensen. 1998. The effect of thermal time and soil water on emergence of Ranunculus repens. Weed Research 38 (6): 405-412.

Lovett-Doust, J., L. Lovett-Doust, A.T. Groth. 1990. The biology of Canadian weeds. 95. Ranunculus repens. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 70: 1123-1141.

Lundqvist, A. 1994. The self-incompatibility system in ranunculus-repens (ranunculaceae). Hereditas 120 (2): 151-157.

Lynn, D.E. and S. Waldren. 2001. Variation in life history characteristics between clones of Ranunculus repens grown in experimental garden conditions. Weed Research 41 (5): 421-432.

Lynn, D.E. and S. Waldren. 2001. Morphological variation in populations of Ranunculus repens from the temporary limestone lakes (Turloughs) in the West of Ireland. Annals of Botany 87 (1): 9-17.

Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Newcomb, N. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Little Brown, Boston.

Peterson, R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.