Buttercup - Ranunculus aquatilis
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Water buttercup is an annual or perennial species that grows up to about
1 m tall and has branching stems. Floating leaves are sometimes present,
but more frequently, the plant only has submersed leaves. The floating
leaves are entire, kidney-shaped or orbicular and usually have 3 to 5
lobes. Submersed leaves are 2 to 3 cm long, ternately or binately dissected
into flaccid or stiff filiform segments. The stipule is adnate and encircles
the base of each petiole. Flowers are borne on stalks from the leaf axils
and have 5 white petals that sometimes have a yellow base. After flowering,
the stalks usually recurve into the water and produce a head-like cluster
of beaked fruits that are 1 to 2 mm long.
Water buttercup grows in shallow water of marshes, ponds, lakes, and
slow streams. According to Cook (1966), species in this complex generally
are pioneer species that are later replaced by pondweeds, water lilies,
and other rhizomatous aquatic species. They also are usually found in
slow moving water less than 1 meter deep and will not grow in deep shade.
Seeds are dispersed by water, in mud, and perhaps by animals.
In quiet water, white water-crowfoot can form dense mats and hinder access
and restrict recreational activities. Nelson and Couch (1985) note that
white water-crowfoot generally does not cause problems in large reservoirs
in Oklahoma because wave action tends to break the brittle stems and prevent
the formation of large colonies. Most problems caused by white water-crowfoot
were in small ponds, lakes, and sluggish streams that often became choked
Links to more information
Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers