- Written also: Lesser Meadow Rue
- Family: Buttercup Family – Ranunculaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock short.
- Height: 40–130 cm (16–52 in.). Upper part branched, slightly grooved, sometimes with some glandular hairs.
- Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), yellow, approx. 1 cm (0.4 in.) across. No petals. Sepals 4–5, greenish or purple, withering early. Stamens many, quite erect, filaments about 5 mm (0.2 in.) long, yellow, anthers about 3 mm (0.12 in.) long, tapered. Gynoecium separate, several pistils. Inflorescence short–branched, sparsely–abundantly flowered, usually leafy compound corymb, flowers quite erect.
- Leaves: Alternate, stalked, stipulate. Stem leaves 3–5. Blade triangular, at least as broad as long, 3–4 times pinnate. Leaflets often quite round, bright green, quite thin, 3–5-lobed at tip, lobes short-tapered and in big leaves slightly outwards-facing.
- Fruit: 8-ridged, winged, sharp-pointed, occasionally glandular, 2.5–5 mm (0.1–0.2 in.) long stalkless achene.
- Habitat: Streamside hedgerows, waterside meadows. Also ornamental and wild in meadows.
- Flowering time: July–August.
Lesser meadow-rue is an extremely diverse species and it includes a lot of forms that are difficult to differentiate. These are sometimes divided into their own species. There are variations within the species particularly with regards to height, branching form of inflorescence, and size of achene. In Finland our relatively coherent native subspecies elatum has a very wide area of distribution. The most eastern stands are the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia and the Kuril Islands to the south and in China. From its Eastern border it grows continuously throughout Siberia and northern Russia, and the western border of its habitat runs between the shores of the White Sea and Ääninen Lake. Its westernmost distinct areas of distribution are in Finnmark in northern Norway as well as Kemi in southwest Lapland, and Inari and Utsjoki in the east. In an apparent contradiction to its name, the plant doesn’t grow in the River Kemi area, but is rather bounded by the River Teno’s flood area.
All in all, around 50 elatum stands have been identified in Finnish Lapland, and these vary in size between 10 and 50 plants – alertness and good leg muscles are however two useful gifts for hunters. Even treckers through Kevo National Park could keep their eyes open for its typical habitats, shoreside broad-leaf forests and hedgerows. One might come across elatum further south too of course as it grows wild as an escape in a couple of places in central Finland on banks and weed heaps. It is virtually impossible to tell the origins of the cultivated plant due to mutations in lesser meadow-rue. The species has nowadays almost completely disappeared from gardens even though it is a very impressive, fine-leaved garden plant – its leaves, which bear a slight resemblance to maidenhair’s, were formerly used as cut greens in flower bouquets.