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Hybrid Spearwort

Ranunculus x levenensis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Bogs, gardens, marshes, wetland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Yellow, cup-shaped flowers. Many yellow stamens.
Small elliptical, brown nutlets.
A perennial plant with leaves intermediate between Lesser Spearwort (Ranunculus flammula) and Creeping Spearwort (Ranunculus reptans). They are half way between ovate and lance-shaped. Leaves are not divided as with most (but not all) buttercup species.
Other Names:
Loch Leven Spearwort.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Ranunculus x levenensis is a hybrid cultivar of the buttercup genus Ranunculus. It is a cross between Ranunculus acris and Ranunculus repens. The plant is known for its large, bright yellow flowers that are similar to those of Ranunculus acris, but with a slightly smaller size and a more spreading habit. The leaves are glossy and lobed, and the plant has a creeping habit, similar to that of R. repens. It is often used as a groundcover in gardens, or planted in rock gardens and as a border. Due to its hybrid nature, it may not produce seeds that are true to the parent cultivar.


Hybrid Spearwort, or Ranunculus x levenensis, is a strikingly beautiful and unique plant that is known for its brightly colored, buttercup-like flowers. As a hybrid species, it is the result of a cross between two other species of ranunculus, R. flammula and R. lingua, which gives it a distinctive appearance and set of characteristics.

Appearance and Characteristics

Hybrid Spearwort is a perennial plant that can grow up to 30cm tall and 60cm wide. It has deep green, slightly glossy leaves that are quite narrow and pointed, and it produces bright yellow flowers that bloom in early summer. The flowers are about 2-3cm in diameter and have five petals, each with a slightly ruffled edge. They are cup-shaped and sit atop thin, wiry stems that rise up from the foliage.

One of the most distinctive features of Hybrid Spearwort is its root system, which is quite unique. Unlike many other plants, it has a rhizomatous root system, which means that it spreads out horizontally just beneath the soil surface, sending out new shoots and roots along the way. This makes it quite hardy and adaptable, and allows it to spread and fill in a space quite quickly.


Hybrid Spearwort is not a difficult plant to grow and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions. It prefers moist soil and can grow in full sun or partial shade, making it a great choice for areas that don't get a lot of direct sunlight. It is also quite tolerant of a wide range of soil types, although it does prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

In terms of care, Hybrid Spearwort is relatively low-maintenance. It does not require regular fertilization, but it will benefit from a layer of compost or mulch added to the soil each spring. It should be watered regularly, especially during hot, dry weather, but it is important to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.


Hybrid Spearwort is primarily grown as an ornamental plant, and it is a popular choice for gardens, borders, and container plantings. Its bright yellow flowers are particularly striking when planted en masse, and they make a great addition to cut flower arrangements.

In addition to its ornamental value, Hybrid Spearwort is also a valuable plant for wildlife. Its flowers attract bees and other pollinators, and its leaves provide food and shelter for a variety of small insects and animals.

Hybrid Spearwort, Ranunculus x levenensis, is a unique and beautiful plant that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. Its striking flowers and distinctive root system make it a great choice for gardens, borders, and containers, and its value to wildlife make it a valuable addition to any landscape. With a little bit of care and attention, Hybrid Spearwort can provide years of beauty and enjoyment.

History and Origin

Hybrid Spearwort is a relatively new plant, having been first bred in the 19th century by Scottish botanist William Macdonald Leven. Leven was an avid plant collector and hybridizer, and he is credited with creating a number of new species and cultivars, including Hybrid Spearwort. He is said to have crossed R. flammula and R. lingua in an effort to create a plant with the best traits of both species, and the resulting hybrid quickly gained popularity among gardeners and horticulturists.

Ecology and Habitat

Hybrid Spearwort is native to Europe, where it can be found growing in wet meadows, marshes, and along the edges of streams and rivers. It is well-suited to these types of environments, as its rhizomatous root system allows it to adapt to changes in water levels and soil conditions. In the wild, Hybrid Spearwort is an important food source for a variety of insects and animals, and it plays a role in maintaining healthy wetland ecosystems.

Cautions and Considerations

While Hybrid Spearwort is a relatively easy plant to grow and care for, it is important to keep in mind that it is toxic to both humans and animals. All parts of the plant contain a number of toxins, including the compound protoanemonin, which can cause skin irritation and other symptoms if ingested or handled improperly. As such, it is important to take care when handling Hybrid Spearwort and to keep it away from children and pets.

In addition, Hybrid Spearwort has been known to naturalize and become invasive in some areas. While it is not generally considered a major invasive species, it is important to be aware of its potential to spread and to take steps to prevent it from becoming a problem. This can include limiting its use in areas where it may be able to escape cultivation, and taking care to remove any seedlings or new shoots that appear outside of its intended growing area.

Overall, Hybrid Spearwort is a fascinating and beautiful plant that is well worth considering for any garden or landscape. With its unique appearance and adaptability, it is sure to bring years of enjoyment to anyone who grows it.


Hybrid Spearwort can be propagated by seed or division. The plant typically produces seeds in late summer, which can be collected and stored for planting in the spring. To ensure a good germination rate, it is recommended to cold-stratify the seeds for several weeks before planting. This can be done by placing the seeds in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator for several weeks, after which they can be planted in a prepared seedbed.

Division is another method of propagation that can be used to increase the number of Hybrid Spearwort plants. This is typically done in the spring or fall, when the plant is dormant or just starting to grow. To divide the plant, simply dig up the clump and gently pull it apart into smaller sections, being careful not to damage the roots. The smaller sections can then be replanted in prepared soil, where they will quickly establish and begin to grow.

Companion Planting

Hybrid Spearwort can be a great addition to a variety of garden settings, and it can be especially effective when paired with the right companion plants. Some good options for companion plants include other shade-loving perennials, such as hostas, ferns, and astilbes. These plants will help to create a lush and varied planting, and will provide a nice contrast to the bright yellow flowers of the Hybrid Spearwort.

Another good option for companion planting is to pair Hybrid Spearwort with other water-loving plants, such as irises, cattails, and water lilies. These plants will help to create a serene and peaceful water garden setting, and will provide an ideal habitat for a variety of aquatic insects and animals.


Hybrid Spearwort, Ranunculus x levenensis, is a unique and attractive plant that is well-suited to a variety of growing conditions. With its bright yellow flowers and distinctive root system, it is sure to add interest and beauty to any garden or landscape. Whether grown for its ornamental value or for its ecological benefits, Hybrid Spearwort is a plant that is well worth considering for any gardener or horticulturist.