Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Ranunculus flammula
creeping buttercup, lesser spearwort

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; widely distributed throughout much of North America except in the southern U.S.

Habitat: Mostly in mud, often where brackish, from sea level to mid-elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: May-July

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Low perennial from slender roots, the stem nearly prostrate, simple or sparingly branched, rooting at the nodes, up to 5 dm. long.


Leaves simple, entire, the blades from broadly oblanceolate to narrowly linear, the basal ones long-petiolate, the cauline leaves nearly sessile.


Flowers usually solitary on pedicels up to 10 cm. long; sepals 5, 2-5 mm. long, with appressed hairs; petals usually 5, yellow, 4-5 mm. long; nectary scale broader than long, forming a shallow pocket; receptacle ovoid, glabrous; stamens many; pistils 5-25.


Achenes in globose to hemispheric heads 2-4 × 3-4 mm; achenes glabrous 1.2-1.6 × 1-1.4 mm with straight or curved beaks 0.1-0.6 mm in length.

Accepted Name:
Ranunculus flammula L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 548. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Ranunculus flammula in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Ranunculus flammula checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Ranunculus flammula information.

E-Flora BC: Ranunculus flammula atlas page.

CalPhotos: Ranunculus flammula photos.

USDA Plants: Ranunculus flammula information.

52 photographs:
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