var. hortensis

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Creeping Buttercup

Ranunculus repens

  • Name also: Crowfoot
  • Family: Buttercup Family – Ranunculaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 15–50 cm (6–20 in.). Stem limp(–ascending), glabrous–sparsely haired, with runners, runners rooting from nodes.
  • Flower: Corolla regular (actinomorphic), golden-yellow, shiny, 15–30 mm (0.6–1.2 in.) wide; petals usually 5, longer than sepals. Sepals 5, spreading, hairy. Receptacle hairy. Stamens many. Gynoecium separate, with many pistils. Flowers solitary or a lax cyme, flower-stalks grooved, hairy.
  • Leaves: Alternate, usually long-stalked. Blade triangular, often hairy, hair flush with surface, with 3 leaflets or sometimes odd-pinnate, central leaflet long-stalked, lateral leaflets short-stalked.
  • Fruit: Approx. 3 mm (0.12 in.) long, light or dark brown achene, tip with approx. 1 mm (0.04 in.) long, slightly curved bristle. Achenes often together.
  • Habitat: Damp meadows, fields, ditch banks, shores, waterside broad-leaved forests, flood-influenced forests, swamps, springs, wasteland, planting sites, yards.
  • Flowering time: June–August.

Creeping buttercup can be found all over Finland, from Hanko to Kilpisjärvi or Utsjoki. It is a native of wetlands like shores and waterside meadows which are prone to flooding. Ranunculus means ’small frog’, referring to the genus’s preference for very damp habitats. Creeping buttercup’s way of growing close to the ground is so characteristic that the person who named it drew attention to it: the species name repens comes from the Latin word repere, ’to crawl’. Other good identification markers are the leaves’ long-stalked central lobe and grooved flower-stalks.

Creeping buttercup is most common from yards, gardens and ditch banks. Weed populations have apparently at least partly arrived in Finland with people, and the first of these most likely came already in the prehistoric period. They often grow closer to the ground than native wild plants. Creeping buttercup spreads quickly and efficiently and often has gardeners tearing their hair out as it covers flower beds with its runners, but on the other hand the variation that has compound flowers (var. hortensis) is cultivated as an ornamental.

Creeping buttercup mainly spreads via its runners: a large stand can be one and the same plant. With its broad runners the clone’s fellow species can be out of reach to pollinating insects. Creeping buttercup has a poor seed production and most of the seeds it does manage to produce end up on the ground being eaten or destroyed by different kinds of microbes. On the other hand, birds can spread the seeds far from the parent plant and they remain viable for a clearly longer time than those of its close relatives.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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