Creeping Buttercup
Ranunculus repensRanunculaceae
Whole Plant
Whole PlantFlowerFruitLeaf
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • none

The Plant:

  • An herbaceous, creeping perennial, 2-3 feet tall.

The Leaves:

  • 3-parted
  • terminal division
  • cleft, lobed, or toothed
  • alternate
  • apex of leaves obtuse to acuminate
  • long, pubescent petioles

The Stem:

  • creeping, horizontal
  • hirsute or glabrate

The Flowers:

  • Yellow flowers with five to seven obovate petals and spreading sepals. The receptacle is hispid or glabrous.

The Fruits:

  • spherical achenes, green maturing to brown
  • sharp, narrow margins
  • short curved beak at tip

The Habitat:

  • rich, damp soil, moist sand, gravel, fields, roadsides, garden


  • seeds are spread by wind, birds, and small mammals
  • reproduces vegetatively by creeping runners (stolons)

Key ID Features:

  • creeping stems
  • cleft, lobed, or toothed leaves with pale blotches
  • hairy petioles
  • yellow flowers

Similar Species:

  • Mistaken for other native buttercups (Ranunculus spp.)
  • Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) has follicular fruits rather than achenes, has sepals but is lacking petals.


  • forms large stands that crowds and eliminates other native species
  • especially disruptive in coastal headlands

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: North Africa, Middle East, China, Japan, Europe

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Likely Invasive

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Likely Invasive

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: importation ban, propagation ban

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston