Mt Cook 'lily' Ranunculus lyallii, photographed by Andy Reisinger.

Belongs within: Ranunculaceae.

Ranunculus, the buttercups, is a cosmopolitan genus of about 300 species. The majority of species have yellow flowers (hence the vernacular name) but some have white, orange or red flowers. The genus name means 'little frog', and refers to the preference of many species for damp habitats; some species even grow aquatically. A number of species have become spread widely around the world, and may be considered a pest for poisoning livestock. These include the creeping buttercup R. repens, a native of the Palaearctic with strong, prostrate running stems.

Characters (from A. T. Whittemore): Herbs, annual or perennial, from tuberous roots, caudices, rhizomes, stolons, or bulbous stem bases. Leaves basal, cauline, or both, simple, variously lobed or parted, or compound, all petiolate or distal leaves sessile; cauline leaves alternate (rarely a distal pair opposite). Leaf blade reniform to linear, margins entire, crenate, or toothed. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, 2-50-flowered cymes to 25 cm or solitary flowers; bracts present or absent, small or large and leaflike, not forming involucre. Flowers bisexual, radially symmetric; sepals sometimes persistent in fruit, 3-5(-6), green or sometimes purple, yellow, or white, plane (base saccate in R. ficaria), oblong to elliptic, ovate, or lanceolate, 1-15 mm; petals 0-22(-150), distinct, yellow, rarely white, red, or green, plane, linear to orbiculate, 1-26 mm; nectary present, usually covered by scale; stamens (5-)10-many; filaments filiform; staminodes absent between stamens and pistils; pistils 4-250, simple; ovule 1 per ovary; style present or absent. Fruits achenes, rarely utricles, aggregate, sessile, discoid, lenticular, globose, obovoid, or cylindric, sides sometimes veined; beak present or absent, terminal, straight or curved, 0-4.5 mm. x = 7, 8.

<==Ranunculus Linnaeus 1753 A61 [incl. Batrachium H98, Casalea H98]
    |--R. acaulis Banks & Sol. ex DC. 1817 [incl. R. stenopetalus Hook. 1844, R. uniflora Colenso 1898] A61
    |--R. aconitifolius H98
    |--R. acris Rich. 1832 H93, A61
    |--R. adoneus GS99
    |--R. adoxifolius O88
    |--R. alismifolius H93
    |    |--R. a. var. alismifolius [incl. R. alismifolius var. hartwegii, R. alismifolius var. lemmonii] H93
    |    `--R. a. var. alismellus H93
    |--R. alpestris H44
    |--R. amphitrichus Colenso 1885 H90, A61
    |--R. andersonii H93
    |--R. anemoneus H90
    |--R. aquatilus H93
    |    |--R. a. var. aquatilus H93
    |    |--R. a. var. capillaceus [incl. R. aquatilus var. harrisii] H93
    |    |--R. a. var. hispidulus H93
    |    `--R. a. var. subrigidus H93
    |--R. argoviensis H98
    |--R. arvensis BO08
    |--R. aucklandicus Gray 1854 [incl. R. hectori Kirk 1899] A61
    |--R. auricomus Linnaeus 1753 H98
    |--R. × baughanii Petrie 1913 [R. sericophyllus × R. sericophyllus var. simpsonii] A61
    |--R. berggrenii Petrie 1887 A61
    |--R. biternatus Smith in Rees 1814 [incl. R. crassipes Hooker 1847] A61
    |--R. bonariensis H93
    |    |--R. b. var. bonariensis H93
    |    `--R. b. var. trisepalus [incl. R. alveolatus] H93
    |--R. brotherusii O88
    |    |--R. b. var. brotherusii O88
    |    `--R. b. var. tanguticus O88
    |--R. buchananii Hook. f. 1864 [incl. R. buchananii var. latilobus Allan 1935] A61
    |    |--R. b. var. buchananii A61
    |    `--R. b. var. multifidus Allan 1935 A61 [=R. sceleratus var. multifidus H93]
    |--R. bulbosus C55b
    |--R. bullatus PT98
    |--R. cadmicus D30
    |--R. californicus (see below for synonymy) H93
    |--R. canus [incl. R. canus var. laetus, R. canus var. ludovicianus] H93
    |--R. carsei Petrie 1926 A61
    |--R. cassubicifolius H98
    |--R. cassubicus Linnaeus 1753 H98
    |--R. cheesemanii Kirk 1899 a61
    |--R. chilensis D03
    |--R. chius PT98
    |--R. chordorhizos Hook. f. 1867 A61
    |--R. clivalis Allan 1961 [=R. geraniifolius Hook. f. 1852 non Pourr. 1788] A61
    |--R. clivicola H90
    |--R. collinus H90
    |--R. colonorum GK00
    |--R. crithmifolius Hook. f. 1864 A61
    |    |--R. c. ssp. crithmifolius ME70
    |    `--R. c. ssp. paucifolius ME70 [=R. paucicflius Kirk 1899 A61]
    |--R. cymbalaria H93
    |    |--R. c. var. cymbalaria H93
    |    `--R. c. var. saximontanus H93
    |--R. depressus Kirk 1880 [incl. R. depressus var. glabratus Kirk 1899] A61
    |    |--R. d. var. depressus A61
    |    `--R. d. var. stewartiae Simpson & Thomson 1943 A61
    |--R. diffusus O88
    |--R. dissectifolius H90
    |--R. enysii Kirk 1880 [incl. R. tenuis Buchanan 1888] A61
    |--R. eschscholtzii H93
    |    |--R. e. var. eschscholtzii H93
    |    |--R. e. var. oxynotus H93
    |    `--R. e. var. suksdorfii H93
    |--R. falcatus [=Ceratocephalus falcatus] C06
    |--R. fallax H98
    |--R. ferreri GM-C02
    |--R. flabellaris H93
    |--R. ficaria H98
    |--R. flammula [incl. R. flammula var. ovalis, R. flammula var. samolifolius] H93
    |--R. foliosus Kirk 1899 A61
    |--R. garganicus GR98
    |--R. glaberrimus H93
    |    |--R. g. var. glaberrimus H93
    |    `--R. g. var. ellipticus H93
    |--R. glabrifolius Hook. 1834 ME70
    |--R. glacialis C55a
    |--R. godleyanus Hook. f. 1867 A61
    |--R. gormanii H93
    |--R. gracilipes Hook. f. 1864 A61
    |--R. grahamii Petrie 1914 A61
    |--R. graniticola KC83
    |--R. gunnianus H90
    |--R. haastii Hook. f. 1864 [incl. R. scott-thomsonii Simpson & Thomson 1926 (n. n.)] A61
    |--R. hebecarpus H93
    |--R. hirtellus O88
    |--R. hirtus Banks & Sol. ex DC. 1817 ME70 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--R. h. var. hirtus C06
    |    `--R. h. var. elongatus Cheeseman 1906 C06
    |--R. huttensis Wall 1926 ME70
    |--R. hybridus C55a
    |--R. hydrocharoides H93
    |--R. hydrophilus C06
    |--R. insertus Simpson 1952 A61
    |--R. insignis Hook. f. 1852 (see below for synonymy) A61
    |    |--R. i. var. insignis A61
    |    `--R. i. var. glabratus Allan 1961 non R. depressus var. glabratus Kirk 1899 A61
    |--R. inundatus Br. ex DC. 1817 H90, A61
    |--R. kirkii Petrie 1887 A61
    |--R. kuepferi H98
    |--R. lappaceus Smith 1814 (see below for synonymy) A61
    |--R. limosella Muell. ex Kirk 1871 [incl. R. limoselloides Muell. ex Hook. f. 1867 non Turcz. 1854] A61
    |--R. lingua H98
    |--R. lobatus O88
    |--R. lobbii H93
    |--R. lobulatus (Kirk) Ckn. 1906 [=R. insignis var. lobulatus Kirk 1899] A61
    |--R. lowii P88
    |--R. lyallii Hook. f. 1864 (see below for synonymy) A61
    |--R. macounii H93
    |--R. macranthus MS10
    |--R. macropus Hooker 1844 [incl. R. longipetiolatus Colenso 1893] A61
    |--R. maculatus Ckn. & Allan 1926 A61
    |--R. × matthewsii Cheeseman 1906 [R. buchananii × R. lyallii] A61
    |--R. melzeri H98
    |--R. millanii H90
    |--R. millefoliatus GR98
    |--R. monophyllus H98
    |--R. monroi Hook. f. 1855 A61 [incl. R. monroi var. dentatus Kirk 1895 ME70, R. monroi var. sericeus Kirk 1895 ME70]
    |--R. montanus H98
    |--R. moseleyi C06
    |--R. muelleri Buchanan 1887 H90, A61
    |    |--R. m. var. muelleri H90
    |    `--R. m. var. brevicaulis H90
    |--R. munroanus O88
    |--R. muricatus GK00
    |--R. niphophilus H90
    |--R. nivalis CS77
    |--R. nivicolus Hook. 1844 A61
    |--R. novae-zelandiae Petrie 1887 A61
    |    |--R. n. var. novae-zelandiae A61
    |    `--R. n. var. repens Simpson & Thomson 1942 non R. repens A61
    |--R. obtusatus D03
    |--R. occidentalis (see below for synonymy) H93
    |--R. oreionannos O88
    |--R. orthorhynchus H93
    |    |--R. o. var. orthorhynchus [incl. R. orthorhynchus var. hallii, R. orthorhynchus var. platyphyllus] H93
    |    `--R. o. var. bloomeri H93
    |--R. pachycarpus H90
    |--R. pachyrrhizus Hook. f. 1864 A61
    |--R. paludosus PT98
    |--R. papulentus H90
    |--R. parnassiifolius H98
    |--R. peduncularis D03
    |--R. pegaeus O88
    |--R. penicillatus R02
    |    |--R. p. ssp. penicillatus R02
    |    `--R. p. ssp. pseudofluitans R02
    |--R. pentandrus H90
    |    |--R. p. var. pentandrus H90
    |    `--R. p. var. patycarpus H90
    |--R. petriei Allan 1961 A61
    |--R. philonotis C55a
    |--R. phthora C55a
    |--R. pimpinellifolius Hook. 1834 H90, A61 [=R. lappaceus var. pimpinellifolius (Hook.) Benth. 1863 A61]
    |--R. pinguis Hooker 1844 [incl. R. pinguis var. pilosus Hooker 1844, R. pinguis var. rhombifolius Hooker 1844] A61
    |--R. platanifolius H98
    |--R. plebeius Br. ex DC. 1817 H90, A61 [=R. hirtus ssp. plebeius (Br.) Kirk 1899 A61]
    |--R. polyanthemos H98
    |--R. populago H93
    |--R. porrectus Simpson 1945 A61
    |--R. productus H90
    |--R. pseudopygmaeus O88
    |--R. pulchellus O88
    |    |--R. p. var. pulchellus O88
    |    |--R. p. var. potaninii O88
    |    |--R. p. var. sericeus non R. monroi var. sericeus Kirk 1899 O88
    |    `--R. p. var. stracheyanus O88
    |--R. pumilio H90
    |    |--R. p. var. pumilio H90
    |    `--R. p. var. politus H90
    |--R. pusillus H93
    |--R. pygmaeus C06
    |--R. pyrenaeus C55a
    |--R. recens Kirk 1899 A61
    |    |--R. r. var. recens A61
    |    `--R. r. var. lacustris Simpson 1952 A61
    |--R. recurvatus J87
    |    |--R. r. var. recurvatus J87
    |    `--R. r. var. tropicus J87
    |--R. repens [incl. R. repens var. pleniflorus] H93
    |--R. reptans C55a
    |--R. reticulatus Colenso 1888 (n. d.) A61
    |--R. rivularis Banks & Sol. ex DC. 1817 A61 (see below for synonymy) A61
    |--R. royi Simpson 1952 A61
    |--R. rutaefolius C55a
    |--R. sardous [incl. R. hirsutus] C06
    |--R. scapiger H90
    |--R. sceleratus C06
    |--R. seguieri C55a
    |--R. septentrionalis A16
    |--R. sericophyllus Hook. f. 1864 A61
    |    |--R. s. var. sericophyllus A61
    |    `--R. s. var. simpsonii (Cockayne & Allan) Simpson 1942 [=R. simpsonii Cockayne & Allan 1926] A61
    |--R. sessiliflorus CA26
    |    |--R. s. var. sessiliflorus H90
    |    `--R. s. var. pilulifer H90
    |--R. sinclairii Hook. f. 1864 [incl. R. sinclairii var. angustatus Kirk 1899] A61
    |--R. subscaposus Hook. f. 1844 A61
    |--R. sulphureus CS77
    |--R. ternatifolius Kirk 1878 [incl. R. trilobatus Kirk 1877 non Kit. ex Schlecht. 1820] A61
    |--R. testiculatus [=Ceratocephalus testiculatus] H93
    |--R. thora C55a
    |--R. trichophyllus Chaix ex Vill. 1786 CD07 [=Batrachium trichophyllum H90]
    |    |--R. t. var. trichophyllus O88
    |    `--R. t. var. glaber O88
    |--R. tricuspis O88
    |--R. trilobus H90
    |--R. udicola H98
    |--R. uncinatus [incl. R. uncinatus var. parviflorus] H93
    |    |--R. u. var. uncinatus C06
    |    `--R. ‘parviflorus’ var. australis C06
    |--R. undosus H90
    |--R. urvilleanus Cheeseman 1925 [=R. hirtus var. gracilis Cheeseman 1906] A61
    |--R. verticillatus Kirk 1899 A61
    `--R. villarsii C55a

Ranunculus californicus [incl. R. californicus var. austromontanus, R. californicus var. cuneatus, R. californicus var. gratus, R. californicus var. rugulosus] H93

Ranunculus hirtus Banks & Sol. ex DC. 1817 ME70 [incl. R. hirtus var. membranifolius Kirk 1899 A61, R. hirtus var. robustus Kirk 1899 A61, R. hirtus var. stoloniferus Kirk 1899 A61]

Ranunculus insignis Hook. f. 1852 [incl. R. ruahinicus Colenso 1886, R. rufus Colenso 1896, R. sychnopetala Colenso 1893] A61

Ranunculus lappaceus Smith 1814 [incl. R. subscaposus var. canterburiensis Armstrong 1881, R. lappaceus var. macrophyllus Kirk 1899, R. multiscapus Hooker 1852, R. lappaceus var. multiscapus Hooker 1864, R. muricatulus Colenso 1891, R. nanus Hook. 1834, R. lappaceus var. nanus (Hook.) Kirk 1878, R. lappaceus var. villosus Kirk 1899] A61

Ranunculus lyallii Hook. f. 1864 [incl. R. lyallii var. araneosa Hook. f. 1867, R. traversii Hook. f. 1864, R. lyallii var. traversii (Hook. f.) Cheeseman 1906] A61

Ranunculus occidentalis [incl. R. occidentalis var. dissectus, R. occidentalis var. eisenii, R. occidentalis var. howellii, R. occidentalis var. rattanii, R. occidentalis var. ultramontanus] H93

Ranunculus rivularis Banks & Sol. ex DC. 1817 A61 [incl. R. areolatus Petrie 1891 C06, R. rivularis var. glareosus Ckn. & Allan 1926 A61, R. incisus Hooker 1852 A61, R. inconspicuus Hooker 1855 A61, R. rivularis var. inconspicuus Benth. 1863 A61, R. rivularis var. major Benth. 1863 A61, R. rivularis var. subfluitans Benth. 1863 A61]

*Type species of generic name indicated


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[BO08] Bönsel, D., I. Ottich, A. Malten & G. Zizka. 2008. An updated list of the vascular plants of Frankfurt am Main (Pteridophyta & Spermatophyta). Senckenbergiana Biologica 88 (1): 111–121.

[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.

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[C06] Cheeseman, T. F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. John Mackay, Government Printer: Wellington.

[CA26] Cockayne, L., & H. H. Allan. 1926. Notes on New Zealand floristic botany, including descriptions of new species, &c. (No. 5). Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 57: 48–72.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[D30] Druce, G. C. 1930. Account of a botanical tour in Cyprus. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London 141: 50–52.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 1–34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[GS99] Galen, C., & M. L. Stanton. 1999. Seedling establishment in alpine buttercups under experimental manipulations of growing-season length. Ecology 80: 2033–2044.

[GK00] Gibson, N., & G. J. Keighery. 2000. Flora and vegetation of the Byenup-Muir reserve system, south-west Western Australia. CALMScience 3 (3): 323–402.

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

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

[KC83] Körner, C., & P. Cochrane. 1983. Influence of plant physiognomy on leaf temperature on clear midsummer days in the Snowy Mountains, south-eastern Australia. Acta Œcologica Œcologiae Plantae 4 (2): 117–124.

[ME70] Moore, L. B., & E. Edgar. 1970. Flora of New Zealand vol. 2. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Monocotyledones except Gramineae. A. R. Shearer, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

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Last updated: 4 January 2022.

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