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Three-lobed Crowfoot

Ranunculus tripartitus

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Plant Profile

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

White, 5 petals
White flowers, similar in shape to those of buttercups of which is in the same family. Petals are yellow at their bases. The sepals are tipped blue and down-turned.
The fruit of Three-lobed Crowfoot is an achene (a dry one-seeded fruit).
Surface leaves are 3-lobed and broadest above their bases. The submerged leaves are feathery and finely divided. Submerged leaves are seldom seen. Grows only in still water.
Other Names:
Three-lobed Water-crowfoot, Three-part Buttercup, Three-part Crowfoot.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus tripartitus, also known as three-part buttercup or three-part crowfoot, 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 hairy, green leaves that are divided into three lobes. It has small, yellow flowers with 5 petals that bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers and leaves of R. tripartitus 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.


Three-lobed Crowfoot (Ranunculus tripartitus) is a species of flowering plant in the Ranunculaceae family. It is also known by its common names such as Three-lobed Buttercup and Trefoil Buttercup. This plant is native to Europe and is commonly found in damp meadows, pastures, and along the banks of streams and rivers.

The Three-lobed Crowfoot is a perennial plant that can grow up to 30cm tall. It has delicate, bright yellow flowers with three petals and three sepals that resemble a butterfly's wings. The leaves of the plant are deeply lobed and have a velvety texture, giving it a distinctive appearance. The leaves are also used to distinguish the Three-lobed Crowfoot from other species in the same family.

One of the unique features of the Three-lobed Crowfoot is that it produces flowers in the late spring and early summer months. During this time, the plant's bright yellow flowers are in full bloom and create a beautiful display of color in the meadows and fields where it grows. The flowers are also a popular source of nectar for bees and other insects, making it an important plant for pollination and for supporting local ecosystems.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Three-lobed Crowfoot has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant's roots and leaves have been used to treat a range of ailments, including skin conditions, rheumatism, and digestive problems. However, it is important to note that some parts of the plant are toxic and should not be consumed without proper medical guidance.

Despite its beauty and cultural significance, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is not a widely cultivated species. This is partly due to its tendency to grow in damp and marshy areas, which are not ideal for cultivation. Additionally, the plant has a shallow root system, making it susceptible to damage from environmental factors such as droughts and storms.

The Three-lobed Crowfoot is a beautiful and fascinating species of flowering plant with a rich cultural history. While it may not be widely cultivated, it continues to play an important role in the ecosystems where it is found and is a valuable source of nectar for pollinators. If you ever come across this plant in the wild, take a moment to appreciate its delicate beauty and rich cultural heritage.

The Three-lobed Crowfoot is not only known for its beauty and medicinal properties, but it is also considered a symbol of love and renewal in many cultures. In ancient Greece, the plant was associated with the goddess Aphrodite and was believed to bring good luck and happiness in relationships. In medieval times, the Three-lobed Crowfoot was used as a symbol of the Holy Trinity and was often used in religious ceremonies and rituals.

In addition to its cultural significance, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is also an important food source for various wildlife species. The plant's seeds are a staple food for birds such as goldfinches, while the leaves and stems are eaten by rabbits, deer, and other herbivores. The plant's shallow root system also provides a critical habitat for various species of insects and amphibians.

Despite its ecological importance, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is considered a threatened species in many parts of Europe. This is due to the loss of its natural habitats, which are being destroyed by human activities such as urbanization, agriculture, and the drainage of wetlands. Additionally, the introduction of non-native plant species is also posing a threat to the survival of the Three-lobed Crowfoot.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect this species and preserve its natural habitats. This includes the creation of nature reserves, the restoration of wetlands, and the introduction of programs to control the spread of non-native plant species. These efforts are crucial in ensuring the survival of this beautiful and ecologically important species for future generations.

The Three-lobed Crowfoot is a unique and fascinating species of flowering plant that is of great cultural, ecological, and medicinal importance. It is important that we take steps to protect this species and preserve its natural habitats for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

The Three-lobed Crowfoot is also a popular subject in art and literature. The plant's delicate flowers and unique leaves have inspired artists and writers for centuries. In the world of botanical art, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is a popular subject due to its delicate beauty and intricate details. The plant's bright yellow flowers and velvety leaves provide a stunning visual contrast, making it a popular subject for still life paintings and drawings.

In literature, the Three-lobed Crowfoot has also been a popular subject. In Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream", the plant is mentioned as a symbol of love and renewal. In folklore, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is also known for its magical properties and was often used in spells and charms. The plant's bright yellow flowers and velvety leaves were believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

In gardening, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is not a commonly cultivated plant. However, for those who are interested in growing this species, it can be grown from seed or from root cuttings. The plant prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. It is important to plant the Three-lobed Crowfoot in a location where it will receive adequate moisture, as the plant is not drought-tolerant.

In conclusion, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is a versatile and multi-faceted species that has captured the imagination of people for centuries. From its cultural significance to its medicinal properties, ecological importance, and artistic inspiration, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is a plant that should be appreciated and protected. Whether you're an artist, gardener, or simply someone who enjoys nature, the Three-lobed Crowfoot is a plant that is sure to capture your heart and imagination.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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