prairie buttercup

(Ranunculus rhomboideus)

Conservation Status
prairie buttercup
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Prairie buttercup is a early-flowering, low-growing, prairie wildflower. It is one of the first prairie wildflowers to bloom in the spring. It occurs in the United States in the Upper Midwest from Michigan to North and South Dakota, with scattered occurrences in the west, and in southern Canada from Ontario to Alberta, with a few occurrences in British Columbia. It is common in Minnesota. It is found mostly in prairies, occasionally in open woods or thickets. It grows in sandy soil under full or partial sun.

Prairie buttercup is a 2 to 8 (5 to 22 cm.) tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on multiple stems from slender roots. The stems are erect and are covered with long spreading hairs.

Basal leaves are undivided, egg-shaped oblong or broadly egg-shaped, to 2 (1 to 5 cm) long, and to 1716 (0.9 to 3.6 cm) wide. They are on long stalks. The blades are broadly angled at the base and rounded at the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are covered with long soft hairs. The margins have 5 rounded teeth on each side but are untoothed near the base. Rarely the innermost basal leaves are 3-parted.

Stem leaves are alternate and stalkless. They are deeply divided into a 3 to 5 one-inch long segments that are long, narrow, and straight sided (linear).

The inflorescence is single flowers rising from a few to several upper leaf axils. Each flower is on a stalk (pedicel) that is covered with long, spreading hairs.

The flowers are to wide. There are usually 5 outer floral leaves (sepals), 5 petals, and always numerous stamens. The sepals are light green, to ¼ (4 to 6 mm) long, and 116 to (1.5 to 3 mm) wide. The outer (lower) sepal surface is covered with long, spreading, colorless hairs. The petals are yellow, shiny, oblong to elliptical, ¼ to 516 (6 to 8 mm) long, and 116 to (2 to 4 mm) wide. They are much longer than the sepals. Sometimes there are up to 8 petals. The stamens have yellow stalks (filaments) and yellow anthers. At the center of the flower there is a dense cluster of green pistils. Each pistil has a single tiny style.

The fruit is a dry seed capsule (achene) replacing each pistil. As the achenes begin to develop, the petals and sepals fall to the ground, leaving a depressed globe-shaped, to ¼ (4 to 6 mm) long, 3 16 to ¼ (5 to 7 mm) in diameter seed head. Each achene is shaped like a thickened lentil, 116 (1.8 to 2.2 mm) long and 132 to 116 (1.2 to 1.8 mm) wide, with a slender, curved extension (beak) at the end.




2 to 8 (5 to 22 cm.)


Flower Color




Similar Species


Dry. Open woods and prairies. Full to partial sun. Sandy soil.




April to May


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Ranunculanae  


Ranunculales (buttercups, poppies, and allies)  


Ranunculaceae (buttercup)  
  Subfamily Ranunculoideae (anemones, buttercups, larkspurs and allies)  
  Tribe Ranunculeae  


Ranunculus (buttercups)  

Subordinate Taxa






Ranunculus ovalis


Common Names


Labrador buttercup

prairie buttercup

prairie crowfoot










A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded seed capsule, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



On plants: A comparatively short and stout, narrow or prolonged tip on a thickened organ, as on some fruits and seeds. On insects: The protruding, tubular mouthpart of a sucking insect.



Narrowly oval, broadest at the middle, narrower at both ends, with the ends being equal.



On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



Two to four times longer than wide with nearly parallel sides.



On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antennae. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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Nancy Falkum

    prairie buttercup      


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Basal leaves

    prairie buttercup      






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  Nancy Falkum

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

prairie buttercup  




Created: 5/25/2020

Last Updated:

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