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Rough-fruited Buttercup

Ranunculus muricatus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, wasteland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Shiny yellow flowers, 1cm in diameter. Many stamens.
The fruit is a spiny achene (type of seed). The fruits are formed in globular clusters of 10 to 20 achenes.
Deeply cut, 3-lobed leaves. May or may not be hairy. An annual flower which is a speciality of the Scilly Isles.
Other Names:
Rock Buttercup, Spiny Buttercup, Spinyfruit Buttercup.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus muricatus, also known as spiny buttercup or rock buttercup, is a species of flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to Europe and is commonly found in grassland, meadows, and pastures. R. muricatus is a herbaceous perennial that grows to a height of up to 50 centimeters. It has long, narrow, green leaves and small, yellow or orange flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is valued for its ornamental value and is commonly grown in gardens and parks. It is also used as a food source and is an important habitat plant for a variety of wildlife species. R. muricatus is known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions and is resistant to pests and diseases. However, it can be toxic to livestock if ingested in large quantities.


Rough-fruited Buttercup (Ranunculus muricatus) is a plant species native to North America and commonly found in meadows, pastures, and grassy areas. This plant is a member of the Ranunculus genus and is part of the Ranunculaceae family.

The Rough-fruited Buttercup is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to 20 inches in height. It has bright yellow flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer, making it a popular choice for gardeners and wildflower enthusiasts. The flowers are about 2 inches in diameter and are composed of several petals arranged in a cup-like shape.

One of the unique features of the Rough-fruited Buttercup is its fruit, which is covered in spiny projections, giving it its common name. The fruit is an achene, a type of dry fruit that is characterized by a single seed surrounded by a pericarp. This type of fruit is easily dispersed by wind and water, making it an effective way for the plant to spread its seeds and colonize new areas.

The Rough-fruited Buttercup is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and maintain. It prefers well-drained soils and can tolerate a wide range of soil types and pH levels. It is also relatively drought-tolerant and can grow in full sun or partial shade. This makes it a suitable choice for landscaping, wildflower gardens, or meadows.

Despite its attractive appearance and hardiness, the Rough-fruited Buttercup is considered an invasive species in some areas. It has the ability to spread quickly and displace native plant species, making it a threat to biodiversity. As a result, it is important to exercise caution when planting this species in areas where it is not native.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Rough-fruited Buttercup also has medicinal properties. Native American tribes have used it for various purposes, including treating wounds, skin conditions, and digestive problems. The plant contains various compounds with medicinal properties, including ranunculin and protoanemonin.

The Rough-fruited Buttercup is also an important food source for various wildlife species, including bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. The nectar of the flowers is highly attractive to these insects, making it a valuable source of food in early spring and summer when other sources may be scarce. The seeds of the plant are also eaten by small mammals and birds, providing an important source of food for these species as well.

Despite its potential benefits, it is important to manage the Rough-fruited Buttercup to prevent it from becoming invasive. In areas where it is native, careful management practices, such as mowing and controlled burning, can help to maintain healthy populations and prevent it from spreading into other areas. In non-native areas, it is important to remove it before it has a chance to spread and establish itself.

The Rough-fruited Buttercup is an important species for scientific research as well. It is commonly used as a model organism for studies in plant ecology, evolution, and physiology. Scientists study the Rough-fruited Buttercup to learn more about its reproductive strategies, growth patterns, and responses to environmental stressors such as drought and disease.

In addition, the Rough-fruited Buttercup is a valuable resource for breeders and horticulturists. It is widely cultivated for its attractive flowers and can be used to develop new cultivars with improved ornamental characteristics such as larger flowers, longer blooming periods, or increased disease resistance.

It is also worth mentioning that the Rough-fruited Buttercup is closely related to the cultivated buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus), a popular ornamental plant grown for its brightly colored flowers. The cultivated buttercup is a hybrid species developed by crossing different species of the Ranunculus genus, including the Rough-fruited Buttercup. This hybridization has allowed horticulturists to develop new cultivars with a wide range of colors and growth habits, making the cultivated buttercup a popular choice for gardens and floriculture.

In conclusion, the Rough-fruited Buttercup is a fascinating and important species that has much to offer in terms of ornamental value, medicinal properties, ecological significance, and scientific research. Whether for ornamental purposes, scientific research, or as a food source for wildlife, this species is sure to continue to play an important role in the years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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