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

Ranunculus gmelinii DC.
small yellow water-buttercup (Gmelin's buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #65985)

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

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Aquatic or amphibious, perennial herb, rooting from nodes of lower stems, roots slender, fibrous; stems slender, simple to branched, floating or trailing, to 50 cm long, smooth or hairy, hollow.
Basal leaves absent; stem leaves alternate, kidney-shaped to circular, 3-lobed or -parted, 0.6-6.5 cm long, 1-9 cm wide, bases heart-shaped, the segments 1- to 3-times lobed to dissected, entire or round-toothed, tips rounded; submerged leaves sometimes deeply dissected into linear or thread-like segments; stalks to 5 cm long.
Inflorescence of solitary flowers from leaf axils, sometimes the terminal one a few-flowered cyme, the stalks 1-5 cm long; receptacle sparsely stiff-hairy; petals 5 or more, distinct, yellow, 3-7 (10) mm long, 2-5 mm wide, egg-shaped, nectary on upper surface, the nectary scale variable; sepals 4 or 5, spreading or bent back from base, early deciduous, 2-5 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, smooth or sparsely long-hairy; stamens 10-45; pistils 20-70.
Achenes, numerous in an egg- to globe-shaped head 3-8 mm long, 3-7 mm wide, the achenes egg-shaped, slightly flattened, 1-1.6 mm long, 1-1.2 mm wide, smooth, whitish-puffy over the lower 1/2 to 2/3 of the circumference; beaks persistent, lanceolate to thread-like, flattened, straight, 0.4-0.8 mm long.
There are no reliable morphological differences for recognition of infraspecific taxa (Scott 1974). This species is closely related to R. flabellaris.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Ponds, shallow streams, shores and wet mud flats, ditches and drained beaver ponds in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common throughout BC except rare along the coast; amphiberingian, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MA, IA, MI, SD, UT, NM, NV and OR; E Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Ranunculus gmelinii

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) 50 1044 1740
Slope Gradient (%) 0 2 60
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
80 171 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 6 8
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: BG(2), BWBS(1), ESSF(1), ICH(3), IDF(17), MS(3), SBPS(5), SBS(4), SWB(2)


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 gmelinii subsp. gmelinii
Ranunculus gmelinii subsp. purshii (Richardson) Hultén
Ranunculus gmelinii var. hookeri (D. Don) L.D. Benson
Ranunculus gmelinii var. limosus (Nutt.) H. Hara
Ranunculus gmelinii var. prolificus (Fernald) H. Hara
Ranunculus gmelinii var. purshii (Richardson) H. Hara
Ranunculus gmelinii var. terrestris (Ledeb.) L.D. Benson
Ranunculus gmelinii var. typicus L.D. Benson
Ranunculus hyperboreus var. tuquetilianus Polunin p.p.
Ranunculus limosus Nutt.
Ranunculus purshii Richardson

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References