Buttercup, Creeping, Ranunculus repens

Life Cycle



Reproducing by seed and by trailing horizontal stems which root at the nodes (Fig 1).


Stems (Fig 8) prostrate or sometimes nearly erect and 20-30cm high, ranging from smooth to densely hairy.


Leaves (Fig 6,7) alternate (1 per node), often clustered, mostly with long stalks; the blades 3-parted and the middle segment with a distinct short stalk; each segment again lobed and toothed.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers (Fig 4) and seed heads (Fig 5) similar to Tall buttercup. Flowers from April to July.


Creeping buttercup occurs in scattered localities throughout Ontario in habitats similar to those of Tall buttercup, but is much less common. It grows particularly well in moist or poorly drained situations and it is often a bad weed in well-watered lawns.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished from Tall buttercup by its prostrate stems which root at the nodes (Fig 1) and by the 3-parted leaf blade in which the central or terminal lobe has a distinct stalk (Fig 6 and 7).


Like Tall buttercup this species also has a bitter, acrid juice and may be poisonous to livestock.

Figure #1.

Creeping buttercup.

Figure #2.

Tall buttercup and creeping buttercup growing together.

Figure #3.

Creeping buttercup in Central Ontario during June.

Figure #4.

Yellow flower of creeping buttercup.

Figure #5.

Seed heads of creeping buttercup.

Figure #6.

Leaf of creeping buttercup with distinct short stalk on middle segment.

Figure #7.

Figure #8.

Stem of creeping buttercup.