Buttercup Family

California Buttercup © KKorbholz

Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee)

Iconic Features

    • Leaves usually compound or lobed
    • Flower parts in indefinite numbers
    • Petals freely attached
    • Stamen usually numerous

    Description (Jepson)

      • Eudicotyledons (eudicots) – a major lineage of flowering plants including most plants traditionally described as dicots and generally characterized by
        • 2 seed leaves (dicotyledon)
        • Netted (reticulate) leaf venation
        • Flower parts in fours and fives
        • Pollen grains with 3 pores (tricolpate)
        • Vascular bundles in stem arranged in a ring
        • Taproot system
      • Generally herbaceous annuals and perennials, with some woody climbers and shrubs
      • Leaves
        • Simple (not divided into leaflets) and palmately lobed, or ternately compound (divided into 3 leaflets)
        • Alternate (1 leaf at each junction with stem) or opposite (2 leaves at each junction with stem)
      • Flowers
        • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) in many forms
        • Generally bisexual and radially symmetric
        • Petals freely attached
        • Parts in indefinite numbers, a trait of simple, primitive flowers
        • Stamen (male flower part) usually numerous
        • Ovary superior (above the attachment of other flower parts)
      • Fruit is a follicle (a dry, multi-seeded pod that opens on one side), achene (a single-seeded, dry fruit that does not split open), or berry (a usually multi-seeded fruit with a fleshy ovary wall)


        • Approximately 1,700 species worldwide
          • Includes columbine, anemone, larkspur, monkshood, and clematis
        • Many species used as ornamentals and a few are sources for medicinal drugs
        • Some species highly toxic
        • Scientific name from its largest included genus Ranunculus, from the Latin rana, “little frog,” as many species grow in wet places
        • Represented by 11 species at Edgewood

        See General References

        Browse Some Edgewood Plants in this Family