Ranunculus nivalis L.
snow buttercup
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Allan Carson     (Photo ID #17822)


E-Flora BC Static Map

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

Species Information

Perennial herb from short rhizomes with clusters of fibrous roots, with a stem base wrapped in brown, old leaf sheaths; stems stout, soft and fleshy, erect, 10-25 cm tall, smooth or sparsely-hairy.
Basal leaves persistent or deciduous, kidney-shaped, 3-parted, 0.6-2 cm long, 1.3-3 cm wide, the lateral segments and sometimes also the terminal segment again lobed or toothed, margins fringed, otherwise generally smooth, tips round-pointed, bases heart-shaped to squared-off, the stalks 1-5 cm long; stem leaves 1 to 3, alternate, short-stalked to unstalked, transitional to the unstalked, deeply 3- to 5-lobed bracts.
Inflorescence a 1- to 3-flowered terminal cyme; flower stalks brown-hairy or rarely smooth; receptacle smooth; petals 5 (6), distinct, yellow, 8-11 mm long, 7-12 mm wide, nectary on upper surface, small, the scale smooth; sepals 5, early deciduous or persistent, 6-8 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, densely brown stiff-hairy; stamens 70 or more; pistils 40-50.
Achenes, numerous (40 to 50) in a cylindric to egg-shaped head 7-14 mm long, 5-6 mm wide, the achenes egg-shaped, 1.5-2.2 mm long, 1.2-1.6 mm wide, smooth, obscurely keeled; beaks persistent, slender, 1-2 mm long, straight.

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.


Ecological Framework for Ranunculus nivalis

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)
1683 1520 2240
Slope Gradient (%)
16 0 70

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

59 20 350
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

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

BAFA(15), cma(1), ESSF(1), SWB(2)

Habitat and Range

Moist to wet streambanks, seepage sites, meadows, snowbeds and scree slopes in the subalpine and alpine zones; frequent in BC N of 55degreeN and E of the Coast Mountains; circumboreal, N to AK, YT and NT and E to Labr. and Greenland; Eurasia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Ranunculus nivalis var. sulphureus (Sol. ex C.J. Phipps) Wahlenb.
Ranunculus sulphureus var. intercedens Hultén