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Chalk-stream Water Crowfoot

Ranunculus penicillatus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
25 centimetres tall

White, 5 petals
White buttercup-like flowers, 2 to 3cm across.
Roundish and oval fruits.
Leaves are almost always submerged under the water. They are small, kidney-shaped and lobed, occasionally 5-lobed and floating. Has a preference for growing in fast streams, in particular in limy water.
Other Names:
Stream-water Crowfoot.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus penicillatus, also known as chalk-stream water crowfoot or bristle water crowfoot, is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family. It is native to Europe and can be found in chalk streams, which are streams with water that is high in calcium carbonate. The plant has delicate, white or pale yellow flowers with 5 petals and long, slender stems. It grows in shallow water and is adapted to fluctuating water levels. The leaves of R. penicillatus are divided into several narrow segments, giving them a feathery appearance. The plant is often used in aquaria and can also be found in gardens as an ornamental plant. It is a popular food source for many aquatic insects, as well as fish and birds.


Chalk-stream water crowfoot is a beautiful and delicate aquatic plant that is found in chalk streams across Europe. This plant is known by its scientific name Ranunculus penicillatus and belongs to the Ranunculaceae family. It is a native species that can be found in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and other parts of Europe.

Chalk-stream water crowfoot is known for its delicate and finely divided leaves that look like the feet of a crow. These leaves float on the surface of the water and provide shelter and food for many aquatic insects and invertebrates. The plant's leaves are also a source of food for fish and other aquatic animals.

The plant is an annual and produces delicate and beautiful yellow flowers that bloom in the spring. The flowers are visited by many insects such as bees, flies, and butterflies, and are an important source of food for them. The plant's seeds are also eaten by aquatic birds such as ducks and geese.

Chalk-stream water crowfoot is an important plant for the conservation of chalk streams. Chalk streams are rare and important habitats that are home to many species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world. Chalk-stream water crowfoot is a key indicator species for chalk streams, and its presence is a sign that the water quality is good and the habitat is healthy.

Chalk-stream water crowfoot is also an important plant for the treatment of water. The plant helps to purify the water by removing excess nutrients and pollutants, and provides a natural filtration system for the stream. This is important for the health of the ecosystem and helps to maintain the delicate balance of the chalk stream habitat.

Chalk-stream water crowfoot is a beautiful and important plant that is found in chalk streams across Europe. It is a key indicator species for the health of the ecosystem, provides food and shelter for many species, and helps to purify the water. If you ever have the chance to visit a chalk stream, be sure to keep an eye out for this beautiful plant.

In addition to its ecological importance, chalk-stream water crowfoot is also a popular plant among aquarists and pond owners. Its delicate leaves and yellow flowers make it a beautiful addition to any aquatic garden. This plant can be easily propagated by dividing the roots or by collecting its seeds.

However, it is important to note that like many other aquatic plants, chalk-stream water crowfoot is vulnerable to changes in water quality. It requires clean water with a neutral pH and a good supply of nutrients. It is also sensitive to changes in water flow and can be impacted by excessive shading from other aquatic plants or trees.

To help protect chalk-stream water crowfoot and other species that depend on chalk streams, it is important to take care when managing these habitats. This can include reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, controlling erosion, and reducing the amount of pollution entering the streams.

Overall, chalk-stream water crowfoot is a fascinating and important plant that plays a vital role in the health and diversity of chalk streams. By protecting and preserving these habitats, we can help ensure the survival of this and other unique species for generations to come.

Aside from its ecological significance, chalk-stream water crowfoot is also of historical and cultural significance. Chalk streams have been important sources of water for people for thousands of years, and the plants and animals that live in them have been used for food, medicine, and other purposes.

For example, in traditional medicine, the roots of chalk-stream water crowfoot were used to treat wounds and skin conditions. The plant's delicate leaves were also used to make a soothing poultice to treat sore eyes.

Chalk-stream water crowfoot is also an important symbol of the chalk streams themselves. In many parts of Europe, the plant is used as a symbol of the beauty and fragility of these habitats. It is a reminder of the importance of preserving these unique ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

In conclusion, chalk-stream water crowfoot is not only a beautiful and ecologically important plant, but also a plant of historical and cultural significance. It is a symbol of the beauty and diversity of chalk streams and the importance of preserving these habitats for future generations. By protecting and conserving these habitats, we can help ensure the survival of chalk-stream water crowfoot and other species that call these streams home.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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