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

Ranunculus aquatilis L.
white water-buttercup (white water buttercup; white water crowfoot)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Allan Carson  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #17820)

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Distribution of Ranunculus aquatilis
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Species Information

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Aquatic, perennial herb, rooting from nodes of lower stems; stems weak, few-branched, creeping or floating, 20-80 cm long, often mat-forming, smooth.
All alternate stem leaves, of two possible types, the floating leaves usually kidney-shaped, 3-parted, 5-8 mm long, 9-15 mm wide, the leaflets elliptic or egg-shaped, margins often notched, unstalked or the stalks 15-40 mm long, the submerged leaves 3 to 5 times 3-dissected, the segments thread-like, the stalks 1-12 mm long; leaves, stalks and stipule-sheaths usually fine-hairy.
Achenes, 10 to 20 in an egg- to globe-shaped head 2-4 mm long, 2-5 mm wide, the achenes egg-shaped, flattened, 1-2 mm long, 0.8-1.4 mm wide, smooth or stiff-hairy; beaks persistent, thread-like, 0.1-1.2 mm long.
The taxonomy of the R. aquatilis complex, at least in North America, remains unclear. The treatment by Whittemore (1997), which we have followed, has included some of our W North American plants with the Eurasian var. aquatilis. The recognition of only two varieties in BC, at least until taxonomic problems are resolved, appears to be the only realistic treatment.

1. Floating leaves simple and dissimilar to the submerged, filiform leaves................. var. aquatilis

1. Floating leaves, if any, similar to the submerged, filiform leaves.................. var. diffusus With.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Ponds and slow-moving streams in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; var. diffusus - common throughout BC, var. aquatilis - infrequent in S BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; var. diffusus - throughout N.A. north of MX, var. aquatilis - circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT and S to MT, WY, UT, TX, CA and MX; Eurasia, S America.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Ranunculus aquatilis

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) 0 901 1720
Slope Gradient (%) 0 2 42
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
32 90 150
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 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(1), BWBS(1), CDF(2), CWH(1), ESSF(2), ICH(1), IDF(5), MS(1), PP(1), SBPS(2), SBS(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

Batrachium aquatile (L.) Dumort.
Batrachium circinatum (Sibth.) Rchb.
Batrachium circinatum subsp. subrigidum (W. Drew) A. Löve & D. Löve
Batrachium longirostre (Godr.) F.W. Schultz
Ranunculus amphibius James
Ranunculus aquatilis var. diffusus With. p.p.
Ranunculus aquatilis var. hispidulus E. Drew
Ranunculus aquatilis var. longirostris (Godr.) G. Lawson
Ranunculus aquatilis var. subrigidus (W. Drew) Breitung
Ranunculus aquatilis var. typicus L.D. Benson
Ranunculus circinatus auct. non Sibth.
Ranunculus circinatus var. subrigidus (W. Drew) L.D. Benson
Ranunculus subrigidus W. Drew
Ranunculus trichophyllus var. hispidulus (E. Drew) W. Drew
Ranunculus usneoides Greene

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References