Ranunculus flammula L.
lesser spearwort (creeping spearwort; greater creeping spearwort; greater creeping spearwort )
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Bryan Kelly-McArthur     (Photo ID #83889)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Ranunculus flammula
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

Amphibious perennial herb, usually with stolons and rooting from nodes, roots slender, fibrous; stems decumbent to prostrate, creeping, to 50 cm long, simple to few branched, smooth or sparsely stiff short-hairy, somewhat hollow.
Tufted at nodes, simple, lanceolate or oblanceolate to thread-like, 0.7-6.5 cm long, 0.4-10 mm wide, usually entire, sometimes shallowly-toothed, bases and tips pointed to thread-like; long- to short-stalked.
Inflorescence of solitary, terminal flowers or few-flowered cymes near branch tips, on stalks to 10 cm long; bracts lanceolate or oblanceolate, receptacle smooth; petals 5 or 6, distinct, yellow, 2.5-7 mm long, 1-4 mm wide, egg-shaped, nectary on upper surface, the nectary scale smooth, shallowly cup-shaped, wider than long; sepals 5, spreading or weakly bent back, 1.5-4 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, smooth or appressed stiff-hairy; stamens 10-50; pistils 5-50.
Achenes, several to many in a globe-shaped head 2-4 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, the achenes egg-shaped, 1.2-1.6 mm long, 1-1.4 mm wide, smooth, smooth to net-veined; beaks persistent, lanceolate to linear, straight or curved, 0.1-0.6 mm long.
Separation of this species into infraspecific taxa, based mainly on leaf width and flower size, is arbitrary at best. See Calder and Taylor (1968) and Whittemore (1997) for alternative treatments.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

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


Ecological Framework for Ranunculus flammula

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)
736 150 1490
Slope Gradient (%)
0 0 2

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
6 5 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

CWH(1), ICH(3), MS(1), SBPS(1)

Habitat and Range

Shorelines, wet meadows, marshes and ditches in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common throughout BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MN, CO and CA; Greenland, Eurasia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Ranunculus flammula var. ovalis (J.M. Bigelow) L.D. Benson
Ranunculus reptans var. reptans