Ranunculus sceleratus (Cursed Crowfoot)

Plant Info
Also known as: Celery-leaf Buttercup, Cursed Buttercup
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; along shores, wet meadows, wet ditches, shallow water
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:6 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flower] Flowers are at the end of branching stems and arising from leaf axils in the upper part of the plant. Individual flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch across, with 5 (sometimes 3 or 4) shiny yellow petals, a ring of yellow stamens around a green center, and 5 (sometimes 3 or 4) yellow-green sepals. The sepals spread back away from the flower with maturity and are about as long as the petals, but may be a bit longer or shorter. 

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] There are both basal leaves and alternate stem leaves. Basal leaves are up to 3 inches long and wide, on long stalks and shallowly lobed in 3 to 5 main parts. Stem leaves are more deeply lobed with the main lobes further divided, generally kidney-shaped in outline, becoming smaller on shorter stalks and narrower lobes as they ascend the stem; those near the flowers are stalkless. Stems are hollow. The plant is hairless, or nearly so.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The flower center expands to an elliptic or cylindrical seed head up to ½ inch long. Seeds have a minute beak that is usually straight; surfaces are smooth or finely wrinkled depending on variety,


There are several buttercup species with small yellow flowers. The habitat, leaf shape, and overall plant size are usually the easiest ways to distinguish them. Cursed Crowfoot is fairly common and can be weedy. The stem oozes a sap that may cause blisters, which is probably where the “cursed” name originates. There are 2 varieties in North America, both found in Minnesota: var. multifidus is most common and has smooth seeds, var. sceleratus has seeds with a finely wrinkled surface.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Goose Garden

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Seth - East Bethel
on: 2011-08-08 16:08:00

I have spotted several plants of Cursed Buttercup coming back on their own amongst a stream bank naturalization project in my back yard. to the best of my knowledge, they were self-seeding and did not come with any seed mixes I purchased and definitely did not plant any plugs of this plant. Glad to see that it is native though so I can leave it be.

Posted by: Janice Hampton Mercer - Iowa
on: 2018-05-17 20:10:36

I am in Southeast Lee County Iowa. That is exactly what is growing in my Mums. Thank you for the information. I will dig them up and throw them away so my dogs don't get to them.

Posted by: Shelley - Maple Grove
on: 2020-05-25 14:19:53

This is in my garden among host as and veggies.

Posted by: Andrew Kauffman - Wright County
on: 2020-06-26 14:38:46

This is really toxic on the skin! I got into some with a weed trimmer and wherever the pulp sticks to the skin it raises blisters within 12 to 24hrs. The blisters itch and will last about 3 days, but healing and scar fade can take a month or more depending on severity.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.