Ranunculus acris (Tall Buttercup)

Plant Info
Also known as: Common Buttercup, Crowfoot
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist fields, edges of woods, along roads
Bloom season:May - October
Plant height:10 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flower] Flowers are at the end of stems that arise from the leaf axils. Individual flowers are ½ to 1 inch across with 5 broad shiny yellow petals. There are numerous yellow stamens around the greenish center. One plant has several to many flowers.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are both basal and alternating up the stem, to 4 inches long and 6 inches across, deeply divided into 3 to 5 lobes, each lobe further divided. Basal leaves are long stalked, becoming stalkless, smaller and with narrower lobes as they ascend the stem. Surfaces are softly hairy. Stems are green and variously hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The center expands to a globe about ¼ inch in diameter, covered in smooth seeds.


Not counting varieties, there are about 15 yellow buttercup species present in Minnesota, only 2 or 3 of which are not native, Tall Buttercup being one. It is most easily identified by its deeply lobed leaves. It also has larger flowers and is a taller plant than most native species. A common weed, it is typical to see plants scattered here and there, but given the chance it can create sizable colonies in old fields and agricultural margins. A double-flowered cultivar was once popular in the garden trade.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin and Douglas counties.


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

Posted by: Carol G
on: 2009-06-23 16:48:36

This plant is abundant in Northeastern Minnesota along the Arrowhead Trail.

Posted by: Mark - Oakdale Nature Preserve, Oakdale MN
on: 2010-06-19 17:03:41

Scattered along most of the trails in Oakdale Nature Preserve, May-June 2010.

Posted by: Sonja - McGrath
on: 2010-12-09 10:59:41

its not everywhere but I do remember picking these as a kid from my Grams field, one of the only flowers she was happy we picked, lol. I still see them around but like I said their not everywhere.

Posted by: Jack M - Maple Plain
on: 2017-05-19 18:30:19

These plants first showed up in large numbers last year. This year with our very wet spring, we now have several large areas hat have been pretty wet and this plant seems to be taking over. Because the areas in question are in an active pasture for fourteen horses spraying is not an option at this time. We will be spot mowing to try to keep seed production to a minimum. May try spot spraying as plants emerge next spring.

Posted by: Elain T - Isanti County
on: 2018-06-03 16:17:17

I just found three of these in my garden. Not sure if I should get rid of them right away or not. I don’t want them to spread all over.

Posted by: Erika - Chaska, Carver County
on: 2019-06-26 13:50:48

I grew up with different kinds of buttercups in the Old Country, but in 50 yrs. of living in MN I saw them for the first time a week ago, a small stand on the left side of Hway 41 on a roadside hill below Crown of Glory Church. The blooms were small, a week later they were gone. In the same spot wild margaritas were blooming and higher up, yellow Birdsfoot-Trefoil. (I've never seen buttercups in New England where we are often.)

Posted by: Sarah - Shakopee
on: 2021-05-16 10:22:51

We inherited a HUGE garden from the previous owners of our new home and these are at the back portion of one of the beds. The ones we have appear to be the double flowered variety, so maybe they were planted on purpose? Not sure if they should stay or go, I've got a lot to learn!

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