Black hellebore Helleborus niger, copyright Apollonio Tottoli.

Belongs within: Ranunculales.
Contains: Aconitum, Delphinium, Aquilegia, Anemone, Clematis, Caltha, Pulsatilla, Thalictrum, Ranunculus.

The Ranunculaceae are a cosmopolitan family of mostly herbaceous plants including the buttercups and related species. Many members of the Ranunculaceae are popular as garden plants. Flowers are most commonly radial though in some genera such as Aconitum and Aquilegia they are bilateral with upper sepals differentiated (Hickman 1993).

Characters (from Whittemore & Parfitt): Herbs, sometimes woody or herbaceous climbers or low shrubs, perennial or annual, often rhizomatous. Stems unarmed. Leaves usually basal and cauline, alternate or sometimes opposite, rarely whorled, simple or variously compound; stipules present or absent; petioles usually present, often proximally sheathing. Leaf blade undivided or more commonly divided or compound, base cordate, sometimes truncate or cuneate, margins entire, toothed, or incised; venation pinnate or palmate. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemes, cymes, umbels, panicles, or spikes, or flowers solitary, flowers pedicellate or sessile. Flowers bisexual, sometimes unisexual, inconspicuous or showy, radially or bilaterally symmetric; sepaloid bracteoles absent; perianth hypogynous; sepals usually imbricate, 3-6(-20), distinct, often petaloid and colored, occasionally spurred; petals 0-26, distinct (rarely connate), plane, cup-shaped, funnel-shaped, or spurred, conspicuous or greatly reduced; nectary usually present, rarely absent; stamens 5-many, distinct; anthers dehiscing longitudinally; staminodes usually absent; pistils 1-many; styles present or absent, often persistent in fruit as beak. Fruits achenes, follicles, or rarely utricles, capsules, or berries, often aggregated into globose to cylindric heads. Seeds 1-many per ovary, never stalked, not arillate; endosperm abundant; embryo usually small.

    |--Coptidoideae T00
    |    |--Xanthorhiza simplicissima T00, NDA05
    |    `--Coptis T00
    |         |--C. japonica NI97
    |         |--C. laciniata H93
    |         `--C. trifolia A16
    |--Isopyroideae T00
    |    |--Thalictrum T00
    |    `--Isopyrum H93
    |         |--I. occidentale H93
    |         `--I. stipitatum H93
    `--Ranunculoideae [Helleboroideae] T00
         |--Ranunculus H98
         |--Ficaria verna H98, BBO01
         `--Helleborus HB03
              |--H. foetidus HB03
              |--H. niger BW64
              `--H. viridis C55b

Ranunculaceae incertae sedis:
  Aconitum D01
  Delphinium WC00
  Aquilegia PT01
  Anemone A61
  Nigella PL04
    |--N. arvensis Linnaeus 1753 PL04
    |    |--N. a. ssp. arvensis PL04
    |    |--N. a. ssp. glauca PT98
    |    `--N. a. ssp. rechingeri (Tutin) Tutin 1964 PL04
    |--N. damascena PT01
    `--N. sativa C55a
  Clematis BVJ01
  Adonis PT98
    |--A. aestivalis H93
    |--A. autumnalis C55b
    |--A. microcarpa PT98
    |--A. nepalensis O88
    `--A. vernalis TG88
  Calliantheum pimpinelloides O88
  Caltha A61
  Cimicifuga WC00
    |--C. foetida WC00
    |    |--C. f. var. foetida WC00
    |    `--C. f. var. velutina Franch. ex Finet & Gagnep. 1904 WC00
    `--C. simplex Wormsk. 1824 WC00
  Oxygraphis polypetala O88
  Paraquilegia microphylla O88
  Paroxygraphis sikkimensis O88
  Trollius O88
    |--T. europaeus H09
    `--T. pumilus O88
         |--T. p. f. pumilus O88
         `--T. p. f. sikkimensis O88
  Garidella nigellastrum PT98
  Halerpestes WC00
    |--H. filisecta Liou 1980 WC00
    `--H. sarmentosa (Adams) Kom. 1931 WC00
  Semiaquilegia adozoides (DC.) Makino 1902 WC00
  Myosurus Linnaeus 1753 A61
    |--M. apetalus [incl. M. aristatus, M. minimus ssp. montanus] H93
    |--M. cupulatus H93
    |--M. minimus [incl. M. minimus ssp. apus, M. minimus var. filiformis, M. minimus ssp. major] H93
    |    |--M. m. var. minimus H90
    |    `--M. m. var. australis H90
    |--M. novae-zelandiae Oliver 1926 A61
    `--M. sessilis [incl. M. minimus var. sessiliflorus] H93
  Erianthis H93
  Actaea rubra [incl. A. rubra ssp. arguta] H93
  Consolida ambigua H93
  Kumlienia hystricula [=Ranunculus hystriculus] H93
  Trautvetteria caroliniensis H93
    |--T. c. var. caroliniensis H93
    `--T. c. var. occidentalis [incl. T. grandis] H93
  Paeoniaecarpum hungaricum Andreânszky 1961 CBH93
  Punctioratipollis ludwigi CBH93
  Actinospora Turcz. 1835 KC01
  Flammula (DC.) Fourr. 1868 KC01
  Barneoudia BGS05
  Oreithales BGS05
  *Anemonastrum narcissiflorum [=Anemone narcissiflora (nom. cons.), Anemone narcissifolia] BGS05
  *Anemonidium dichotomum BGS05
  Anemonoides BGS05
    |--*A. nemorosa [=Anemone nemorosa] BGS05
    |--A. baldensis (L.) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 (see below for synonymy) BGS05
    |--A. ranunculoides [=Anemone ranunculoides] BGS05
    |--A. sylvestris (L.) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 (see below for synonymy) BGS05
    `--A. trifolia [=Anemone trifolia] BGS05
         |--A. t. ssp. trifolia BGS05
         |--A. t. ssp. albida (Mariz) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 (see below for synonymy) BGS05
         `--A. t. ssp. brevidentata (Ubaldi & Puppi) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 (see below for synonymy) BGS05
  *Eriocapitella japonica BGS05
  Hepatica BGS05
    |--H. nobilis Schreb. 1771 BGS05
    `--H. transsilvanica H09
  Pulsatilla BGS05

Anemonoides baldensis (L.) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 [=Anemone baldensis L. 1767] BGS05

Anemonoides sylvestris (L.) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 [=Anemone sylvestris L. 1753] BGS05

Anemonoides trifolia ssp. albida (Mariz) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 [=Anemone albida Mariz 1886] BGS05

Anemonoides trifolia ssp. brevidentata (Ubaldi & Puppi) Galasso, Banfi & Soldano in Banfi, Galasso & Soldano 2005 [=Anemone trifolia ssp. brevidentata Ubaldi & Puppi 1989] BGS05

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A16] Alexander, C. P. 1916. New or little-known crane-flies from the United States and Canada: Tipulidae, Diptera, Part 2. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 67 (3): 458–514, pls 16–21.

[A61] Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand vol. 1. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Psilopsida, Lycopsida, Filicopsida, Gymnospermae, Dicotyledones. R. E. Owen, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[BGS05] Banfi, E., G. Galasso & A. Soldano. 2005. Notes on systematics and taxonomy for the Italian vascular flora. 1. Atti Soc. It. Sci. Nat. Museo Civ. Stor. Nat. Milano 146 (2): 219–244.

[BBO01] Begerow, D., R. Bauer & F. Oberwinkler. 2001. Muribasidiospora: Microstromatales or Exobasidiales? Mycological Research 105 (7): 798–810.

[BW64] Booth, C., & J. M. Waterston. 1964. Fusarium redolens. C.M.I. Descriptions of Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria 27.

[BVJ01] Brandenburg, W. A., J. G. van de Vooren & C. E. Jarvis. 2001. Lectotypification and description of Clematis viticella L. (Ranunculaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 135 (1): 13–23.

[C55a] Candolle, A. de. 1855a. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 1. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[C55b] Candolle, A. de. 1855b. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[CBH93] Collinson, M. E., M. C. Boulter & P. L. Holmes. 1993. Magnoliophyta (‘Angiospermae’). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 809–841. Chapman & Hall: London.

[D01] Doweld, A. B. 2001. The systematic relevance of fruit and seed structure in Bersama and Melianthus (Melianthaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 227: 75–103.

[H90] Harden, G. J. (ed.) 1990. Flora of New South Wales vol. 1. New South Wales University Press.

[H09] Heltmann, H. 2009. Der Königstein (Piatra Craiului), die Perle der Burzenländer Gebirge. Mauritiana 20 (3): 515–527.

[H93] Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press: Berkeley (California).

[HB03] Hong, S. G., K. S. Bae, M. Herzberg, A. Titze & M.-A. Lachance. 2003. Candida kunwiensis sp. nov., a yeast associated with flowers and bumblebees. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 53: 367–372.

[H98] Hörandl, E. 1998. Species concepts in agamic complexes: applications in the Ranunculus auricomus complex and general perspectives. Folia Geobotanica 33: 335–348.

[KC01] Kirk, P. M., P. F. Cannon, J. C. David & J. A. Stalpers. 2001. Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi 9th ed. CAB International: Wallingford (UK).

[NDA05] Nickrent, D. L., J. P. Der & F. E. Anderson. 2005. Discovery of the photosynthetic relatives of the "Maltese mushroom" Cynomorium. BMC Evolutionary Biology 5: 38.

[NI97] Nikoh, N., N. Iwabe, K. Kuma, M. Ohno, T. Sugiyama, Y. Watanabe, K. Yasui, Zhang S.-C., K. Hori, Y. Shimura & T. Miyata. 1997. An estimate of divergence time of Parazoa and Eumetazoa and that of Cephalochordata and Vertebrata by aldolase and triose phosphate isomerase clocks. Journal of Molecular Evolution 45: 97–106.

[O88] Ohba, H. 1988. The alpine flora of the Nepal Himalayas: an introductory note. In: Ohba, H., & S. B. Malla (eds) The Himalayan Plants vol. 1. The University Museum, University of Tokyo, Bulletin 31: 19–46.

[PT98] Panitsa, M., & D. Tzanoudakis. 1998. Contribution to the study of the Greek flora: flora and vegetation of the E Aegean islands Agathonisi and Pharmakonisi. Willdenowia 28: 95–116.

[PT01] Pemberton, L. M. S., S.-L. Tsai, P. H. Lovell & P. J. Harris. 2001. Epidermal patterning in seedling roots of eudicotyledons. Annals of Botany 87: 649–654.

[PL04] Pohl, G., & I. Lenski. 2004. Zur Verbreitung und Vergesellschaftung von Pennisetum orientale Rich. in Nordeuböa (Griechenland) (Poaceae, Paniceae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 83 (2): 209–223.

[TG88] Tepfer, D., A. Goldmann, N. Pamboukdjian, M. Maille, A. Lepingle, D. Chevalier, J. Dénarié & C. Rosenberg. 1988. A plasmid of Rhizobium meliloti 41 encodes catabolism of two compounds from root exudate of Calystegium sepium. Journal of Bacteriology 170 (3): 1153–1161.

[T00] Thorne, R. F. 2000. The classification and geography of the flowering plants: dicotyledons of the class Angiospermae (subclasses Magnoliidae, Ranunculidae, Caryophyllidae, Dilleniidae, Rosidae, Asteridae, and Lamiidae). The Botanical Review 66: 441–647.

[WC00] Wang R.-J. & Chen Z.-Y. 2000. New data of some Ranunculaceae plants in China. Acta Botanica Yunnanica 22: 126–128.

Last updated: 7 June 2022.

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