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Vascular Plants of California
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Ranunculus cymbalaria

Higher Taxonomy
Family: RanunculaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, woody vine [shrub], occasionally aquatic. Leaf: generally basal and cauline, alternate or opposite, simple or compound; petioles at base generally flat, occasionally sheathing or stipule-like. Inflorescence: cyme, raceme, panicle, or flowers 1. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial; sepals 3--6(20), free, early-deciduous or withering in fruit, generally green; petals 0--many, generally free; stamens generally 5--many, staminodes generally 0; pistils 1--many, ovary superior, chamber 1, style 0--1, generally +- persistent as beak, ovules 1--many. Fruit: achene, follicle, berry, +- utricle in Trautvetteria, in aggregate or not, 1--many-seeded.
Genera In Family: +- 60 genera, 1700 species: worldwide, especially northern temperate, tropical mountains; many ornamental (Adonis, Aquilegia, Clematis, Consolida, Delphinium, Helleborus, Nigella). Toxicity: some highly TOXIC (Aconitum, Actaea, Delphinium, Ranunculus). Note: Taxa of Isopyrum in TJM (1993) moved to Enemion; Kumlienia moved to Ranunculus.
eFlora Treatment Author: Margriet Wetherwax & Dieter H. Wilken, family description, key to genera
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: RanunculusView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: BUTTERCUP
Habit: Annual to perennial herb, occasionally from stolons or caudices, terrestrial or aquatic; roots generally fibrous. Stem: prostrate to erect. Leaf: basal, cauline, or both, alternate, generally reduced upward; petiole base flat, stipule-like or not; basal, proximal cauline petioles generally long; blades simple to dissected or compound, entire to toothed. Inflorescence: cyme, axillary or terminal, 1--few-flowered. Flower: sepals 3--5(6), generally early-deciduous, generally green to yellow or purple; petals 0--17[(150)], shiny, generally yellow, occasionally white or purple, nectaries near base, pocket-like or with flap-like scale; anthers yellow; pistils generally many. Fruit: achene, compressed or not, +- spheric, disk-like (width 3--15 × depth), or lenticular (width 1--2 × depth), beaked.
Etymology: (Latin: diminutive of Rana, frog, from wet habitats)
eFlora Treatment Author: Alan T. Whittemore
Ranunculus cymbalaria Pursh
Habit: Perennial herb 3--20(30) cm, with stolons. Leaf: basal, proximal cauline, and on stolon 0.7--3.8 cm, 0.8--3.2 cm wide, oblong to cordate or round, simple, undivided, base rounded to cordate, margin crenate or crenate-serrate, tip rounded; distal cauline much reduced, simple, undivided. Flower: receptacle bristly or glabrous; sepals 5, spreading, 2.5--6 mm, 1.5--3 mm wide, early-deciduous; petals 5, 2--7 mm, 1--3 mm wide. Fruit: body 1--1.4(2.2) mm, 0.8--1.2 mm wide, lenticular, wall papery, longitudinally ribbed, beak persistent, 0.1--0.2 mm, straight, conic, straight.
Ecology: Muddy places, generally brackish or alkaline; Elevation: < 3200 m. Bioregional Distribution: CaR, SNH, SW, GB, DMoj; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, Newfoundland; South America, Eurasia. Flowering Time: May--Aug
Synonyms: Ranunculus cymbalaria var. saximontanus Fernald; Halerpestes cymbalaria (Pursh) Greene
Jepson eFlora Author: Alan T. Whittemore
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Ranunculus canus var. ludovicianus
Next taxon: Ranunculus eschscholtzii

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Botanical illustration including Ranunculus cymbalaria

botanical illustration including Ranunculus cymbalaria

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Citation for this treatment: Alan T. Whittemore 2012, Ranunculus cymbalaria, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 15, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 15, 2024.

Ranunculus cymbalaria
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©2016 Keir Morse
Ranunculus cymbalaria
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©2009 Barry Breckling
Ranunculus cymbalaria
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©2022 Neal Kramer
Ranunculus cymbalaria
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©2007 Steve Matson
Ranunculus cymbalaria
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©2016 Aaron Schusteff

More photos of Ranunculus cymbalaria
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ranunculus cymbalaria:
CaR, SNH, SW, GB, DMoj
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).