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Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot

Ranunculus circinatus

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.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Ditches, ponds, water.

White, 5 petals
White buttercup-like flowers, up to 2cm in diameter. The centre of the flower is yellow.
The fruit is a roundish or oval seedhead.
The thread-like submerged leaves are distinctively fan-shaped. Perennial.
Other Names:
Round-leaved Buttercup, Round-leaved Crowfoot.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus circinatus, also known as round-leaved crowfoot or round-leaved buttercup, is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family. It is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats, including woods, meadows, and marshes. The plant has glossy, green leaves that are round or kidney-shaped and have a distinctive, wavy margin. It has small, yellow flowers with 5 petals that bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers and leaves of R. circinatus are toxic to animals and can cause gastrointestinal distress if ingested. However, the plant is sometimes used in traditional medicine to treat skin conditions and wounds.


Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus circinatus) is a beautiful aquatic plant species that belongs to the Ranunculaceae family. This plant is commonly found in shallow ponds, slow-moving streams, and marshy areas. It is native to North America and is widely distributed across the United States and Canada.

Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is an herbaceous perennial plant that can grow up to 10 cm in height. The plant has distinctive leaves that are green, deeply lobed, and resemble the shape of a fan. The leaves are attached to long, delicate stems that can float on the water surface. The stems are delicate and can grow up to 30 cm in length.

In the summer, the Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot produces small, yellow flowers that are held above the water surface. These flowers are cup-shaped and have five petals each. The flowers are followed by small, green seeds that are dispersed by the wind and water.

This plant is important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it provides an important food source for waterfowl and other wildlife. Secondly, it helps to improve water quality by removing excess nutrients and reducing the growth of harmful algae. Finally, Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is an important component of wetland ecosystems and provides critical habitat for many aquatic species.

Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a relatively easy plant to care for and can be grown in a variety of settings. It does well in full sun to partial shade and prefers shallow water up to 10 cm deep. It is also relatively drought-tolerant and can grow in a variety of soils, including clay and sand.

Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a beautiful and important plant species that can be found in many wetland areas across North America. It is easy to care for and provides many important benefits to the environment, including improved water quality and habitat for aquatic species. If you have a pond or wetland area on your property, consider planting some Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot to help improve the health of your local ecosystem.

Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is also a popular plant for aquarists and water gardeners. Its delicate leaves and stems create a beautiful floating effect in a water garden, and the yellow flowers add a pop of color during the summer months. The plant is also an excellent choice for a natural-looking water feature in a backyard or landscaped area.

One important thing to keep in mind when growing Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is that it can become invasive if not managed properly. This plant has the ability to spread rapidly and can outcompete native species in certain areas. To prevent this, it is important to plant the plant in a contained area, such as a water garden, and to regularly remove any unwanted plants from the surrounding area.

Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a hardy plant and is not susceptible to many pests or diseases. However, it is important to keep an eye out for slugs and snails, which can damage the delicate leaves and stems of the plant. To control these pests, you can use slug and snail baits or barriers, such as copper strips, around the plant.

In addition to its ornamental value, Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot has a long history of use as a medicinal plant by indigenous people. The roots and leaves of the plant were used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin irritations, wounds, and digestive problems. However, it is important to note that the plant is toxic if ingested and should not be used as a medicine without the guidance of a professional.

Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a beautiful and useful plant that can add a touch of natural beauty to any water feature or landscaped area. It is important to manage the plant properly to prevent invasiveness and to keep it healthy and attractive. Whether you are a water gardener, aquarist, or just appreciate the beauty of native plants, Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is definitely worth considering for your next project.

It is also important to note that Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a valuable plant for wildlife, especially for aquatic insects and animals. The plant provides an important source of nectar for bees and butterflies, and its leaves and stems provide cover and habitat for many species of insects and small mammals. The seeds of the plant are also an important food source for waterfowl, such as ducks and geese.

Additionally, Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a valuable plant for erosion control and sediment management. The plant's roots and leaves help to stabilize the soil and reduce the amount of sediment that is carried into waterways. This can help to improve water quality and prevent the damage that can be caused by erosion and sedimentation.

Another important aspect of Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is its role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. As the climate continues to change, many aquatic species are at risk due to changes in water temperature and the loss of habitat. Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a hardy plant that can adapt to these changes, making it an important species for maintaining the health and diversity of aquatic ecosystems.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is an important plant for research and education. Scientists are continuing to study the plant to better understand its biology, ecology, and potential uses, and it is a valuable tool for educating students and the public about the importance of aquatic plants and the role they play in our environment.

In conclusion, Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is a valuable plant species that offers many benefits to the environment and wildlife. Whether you are a water gardener, naturalist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of native plants, Fan-leaved Water Crowfoot is definitely worth considering for your next project. With its delicate leaves and stems, beautiful yellow flowers, and important role in our environment, this plant is truly a gem in the world of aquatic plants.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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