E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Ranunculus abortivus L.
kidney-leaved buttercup (littleleaf buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #20309)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Ranunculus abortivus
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Species Information

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Biennial or short-lived perennial herb from a cluster of fibrous roots; stems usually single, erect or nearly so, 10-60 cm tall, smooth, hollow.
Basal, persistent, round to kidney-shaped, not divided, but sometimes inner ones 3-parted or -lobed, 1.5-4 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, base shallowly to deeply notched, margins round-toothed to round-lobed, the stalks up to 10 cm long; lower stem leaves similar to basal, but often deeply 3-lobed or -parted; upper stem leaves and bracts divided into 3 to 5 linear or narrowly lanceolate, entire segments.
Inflorescence a 3- to 50-flowered cyme; flower stalks to 10 cm long, smooth or nearly so; receptacle sparsely long-hairy; petals 5, distinct, yellow, fading to white, 1.5-3.5 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, nectary on upper surface, the nectary scale smooth, 0.5-0.7 mm long; sepals 5, spreading to bent back, early deciduous, greenish-yellow and usually purplish-tinged, 2.5-4 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, smooth above; stamens 15-30; pistils 20-40 (50).
Achenes, 20 to 50 in an egg-shaped head 3-6 mm long, 2.5-5 mm wide, the achenes egg-shaped, 1.4-1.6 mm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, smooth; beaks awl-shaped, curved, 0.1-0.2 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Black
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Wet to moist clearings, meadows, streambanks, shores and ditches from the lowland to subalpine zones; frequent throughout BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare along the coast; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ID, CO, FL, TX and WA, Cuba.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Ranunculus abortivus

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 450 818 1075
Slope Gradient (%) 0 3 25
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 279 320
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 5 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: ICH(1), IDF(3), SBS(6), SWB(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Ranunculus abortivus subsp. acrolasius (Fernald) Kapoor & A. Löve & D. Löve
Ranunculus abortivus var. abortivus
Ranunculus abortivus var. acrolasius Fernald
Ranunculus abortivus var. eucyclus Fernald
Ranunculus abortivus var. indivisus Fernald
Ranunculus abortivus var. typicus Fernald

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References