Open the Advanced Search

River Water Crowfoot

Ranunculus fluitans

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall

White, 5 petals
White buttercup-like flowers, yellow in their centres. Numerous yellow stamens.
The fruit is a rounded seedhead.
A perennial water plant with barely any floating leaves at all. The submerged leaves are thread-like and finely divided. The floating leaves are similar to those of most other buttercup species.
Other Names:
Floating Crowfoot, Water Crowfoot.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus fluitans, also known as floating crowfoot or water crowfoot, is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family. It is native to Europe and can be found in slow-moving or stagnant water, such as ponds and ditches. 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. fluitans 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.


River Water Crowfoot, also known as Ranunculus fluitans, is a beautiful aquatic plant that can be found growing in rivers, streams, and other bodies of slow-moving water. This plant is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, where it is now a common sight in many freshwater habitats.

Ranunculus fluitans is a herbaceous perennial that grows from a long, creeping rootstock. It has long, slender stems that can reach up to 2 meters in length, and a mass of delicate leaves that float on the surface of the water. The leaves are usually circular or oval in shape, with wavy margins and a slightly glossy texture. They are a bright green color and can be up to 10 cm in diameter.

The flowers of Ranunculus fluitans are the plant's most striking feature. They are large, bright yellow, and have a distinctive shape, with multiple petals that curve outward and form a cup-like shape. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer, and they are held on long, slender stems that rise above the water's surface.

Ranunculus fluitans is a popular plant for aquaria and water gardens because of its delicate appearance and fast growth. It can be grown in shallow water, where it will spread rapidly and cover the surface of the water, creating a lush green carpet. It is also a good oxygenating plant, which makes it ideal for aquariums where the water needs to be well-oxygenated for the health of the fish.

In the wild, Ranunculus fluitans is an important food source for many species of fish and waterfowl. The plant's leaves and stems are eaten by ducks, geese, and other birds, and its seeds provide a source of food for fish and insects. It is also an important part of the aquatic food chain, as it provides a habitat for many aquatic insects, such as dragonflies and damselflies.

In conclusion, River Water Crowfoot, Ranunculus fluitans, is a beautiful and versatile plant that can be found growing in rivers, streams, and other bodies of slow-moving water. It is an important part of the aquatic ecosystem, providing food and habitat for many species of fish and waterfowl, and it is also a popular plant for aquaria and water gardens because of its delicate appearance and fast growth. Whether you are an aquatic gardener or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, River Water Crowfoot is a plant that is well worth admiring.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological value, River Water Crowfoot also has some medicinal uses. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a range of ailments, including wounds, skin irritation, and digestive problems. The roots and leaves of the plant contain compounds with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and they have been used in the past to reduce pain and swelling.

However, it's important to note that not all parts of the plant are safe for human consumption, and some parts can even be toxic. If you are considering using Ranunculus fluitans for medicinal purposes, it is important to do so under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.

In terms of cultivation, Ranunculus fluitans is a relatively easy plant to grow. It prefers shallow water with a pH between 6 and 7, and it will grow well in full sun or partial shade. The plant can be propagated by dividing the rootstock or by collecting and planting the seeds. It can also be propagated by planting stem cuttings, although this method is less commonly used.

River Water Crowfoot, Ranunculus fluitans, is a beautiful and versatile plant that has many uses, from ornamental and ecological to medicinal. Whether you are an aquatic gardener, a nature lover, or interested in traditional medicine, this plant is well worth learning about and appreciating. So next time you are near a river or stream, take a moment to admire this beautiful aquatic plant, and appreciate its many values and uses.

In terms of conservation, Ranunculus fluitans is considered a widespread and common plant, and it is not currently listed as threatened or endangered. However, as with many aquatic species, the health of Ranunculus fluitans populations can be affected by a range of factors, including pollution, habitat degradation, and changes to water flow and levels.

To ensure the continued health and survival of Ranunculus fluitans, it is important to protect and manage the freshwater habitats where it grows. This can include measures such as reducing pollution, conserving river and stream ecosystems, and managing water resources in a sustainable way.

In addition, Ranunculus fluitans can be used as an indicator of water quality and ecosystem health. The presence of this plant in a freshwater system can indicate that the water is clean and healthy, while its absence may indicate that there are problems with water quality or habitat degradation.

In conclusion, while Ranunculus fluitans is currently a widespread and common plant, it is important to protect and manage its freshwater habitats to ensure its continued health and survival. By appreciating and protecting this beautiful aquatic plant, we can also help to conserve and protect the freshwater ecosystems where it grows.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map