Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup,Stickseed Crowfoot)

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-24-22, #883-11.

Smallflower Buttercup, Small-Flowered Buttercup, Stickseed Crowfoot

Ranunculus parviflorus

ra-NUN-ku-lus  par-VEE-flor-us

Synonyms of Ranunculus parviflorus (10) (Updated on 1-12-23 from Plants of the World Online): Notophilus parviflorus Fourr. (1868), Ranunculus muricatus Moench. (1794)(nom. illeg.), Ranunculus parviflorus var. acutilobus DC. (1817), Ranunculus parviflorus var. australis Benth. (1863), Ranunculus parviflorus var. dimidiatus E.H.L.Krause (1914), Ranunculus parviflorus var. erectus DC. (1817), Ranunculus parviflorus var. subapetalus Gren. (1847), Ranunculus pauciflorus Spreng. (1825), Ranunculus subapetalus Duby (1828), Ranunculus trachyspermus Elliott (1821)

According to Plants of the World Online, Ranunculus parviflorus Loefl. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Ranunculus. It was first named as such by Pehr Löfling (a student of Linnaeus) in Iter Hispanicum (page 291) in 1758. His name is at the top of the front cover as Petri Loefling and Linnaeus’s name is at the bottom. This was the first mention of Ranunculus parviflorus… You can read it by clicking HERE. There isn’t much of a description, but the name is there. Of course, it is in Latin.

If you read the link attached to Pehr Löefling’s name (above) you will see he died on an expedition in Venezuela in 1756. It was, in fact, Mr. Linnaeus who recommended Loefling to be selected to go on this mission to the Spanish Ambassador…

Carl Linnaeus went ahead and published Löfling’s Inter Hispanicum for him in 1758, where you can clearly see, on page 281, the name Ranunculus parviflorus… Before being mentioned in Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae in 1759 (page 1087).

It seems most websites and databases use the name Ranunculus parviflorus L. meaning the species was named by Carl von Linnaeus. The original publication is the 10th edition of Systema Naturae in 1759 on page 1087. Loeflings’ name isn’t mentioned… You can read this page by clicking HERE.

The genus, Ranunculus L., was also named and described by Carl von Linnaeus, but in the 1st volume of the 1st edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. 

As of 1-12-23 when this page was last updated Plants of the World Online lists 1,691 species in the Ranunculus genus. It is a member of the plant family Ranunculaceae with 50 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Distribution map of Ranunculus parviflorus from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. Retrieved on June 9, 2022.

The above distribution map for Ranunculus parviflorus is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where they are introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is similar. No map is perfect and this species could have a much broader range… After all, it is a Ranunculus… I might add the data on the USDA Plants Database are NOT up-to-date. 

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 4-7-20, #684-19.

There are several species of Ranunculus growing on the farm that have stumped me for several years. Many species are very difficult to distinguish from one another. I gave up for a while and started concentrating on species that were much easier, like those that there were only one or two species of. I made a breakthrough in 2022… Well, to be honest, I was kind of looking mainly at their flowers and leaves when I should have also been looking at their fruit. In fact, for several species, it is their fruit that tell the tale…

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 4-7-20, #684-20.

I take a lot of photos because I upload them on iNaturalist and submit the observation. I take several photos of various parts every time to give other members a better picture of what I have found. When somene (sometimes it takes more than one) agrees, then your observation becomes research grade. It is very addictive… The problem with Ranununculus species is that they are very controversial so no one usually wants to stick their neck out. I can’t blame them, and it doesn’t keep me from trying.

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 4-23-20, #690-89.

Fall and winter are the time of the year when I update this site. I update the species name to make sure it is still correct, add newly found synonyms from Plants of the World Online, add new photos on old pages, and publish new pages. Umm… When I write new pages during the update, I skip writing descriptions until the updates are made. That’s what happened here. I will come back later and write proper descriptions which takes a long time for me…

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 4-23-20, #690-90.

I have been back on the family farm since 2013 but I really didn’t get more into wildflower ID until 2018. I took photos of Ranunculus earlier than that and I would go through photos and pages on the Missouri Plants website to find their ID. Once I found iNaturalist it became so much easier but I still use Missouri Plants and other sites to make sure. Now I have identified over 250 species of wildflowers and have a positive ID for four species of Ranunculus. At first there were a few more suspicious species, but I realized they were R. sardous which wasn’t even on the list…

I might note that the Missouri Plants website says this species is only found in a few counties in southern Missouri. The map on the USDA Plants Database shows the same. BUT, the USDA Plants Database maps are not up to date. The map on iNaturalist tells a different tale with several observations farther up in Missouri, including mine, and all are Research Grade. It’s the only Ranunculus species I have submitted that has become Research Grade.

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 4-23-20, #690-91.

How sure am I this species is Ranunculus parviflorus? Well, that is a secret. As I mentioned earlier, the fruit tells the tale. The growth habit, leaves, stems, flowers, and FRUIT say they want to be R. parviflorus… Plus, I want it to be. 🙂 I am prepared to change the captions just in case I am wrong. I am very open-minded and I have been wrong several times before.

I am sure you are thinking I am writing a lot and I could have taken the time to write descriptions. Well, maybe that is me thinking of an excuse.

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 4-23-20, #690-92.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-23.

The above photo and the next few were taken of a good-sized colony next to the gate to the barn lot. The other plant with the flat fruit is a Thlaspi arvense (Field Penny-Cress). I am sure about that one.

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-24.

I took quite a few close-up photos of the fruit but they didn’t come out well. The fruit (achenes)of R. parviflorus are kind of thin compared to other species. They have a triangular, flattened beak with curved or hooked tips. Hmmm… Not to say that other species fruits aren’t similar, but not on this farm.

OK, I will stop blabbing now… Be sure to check out the links below for further reading. Many have great technical descriptions that can help with a positive ID.

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-25.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-26.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-27.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-28.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-22-22, #882-29.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-24-22, #883-10.

During flowering, the plants take on a whole different appearance. What once was a mound of leaves is now loaded with stems and lots of small flowers.

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-24-22, #883-11.

There are so many stems that they get tangled up when the wind blows…

Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-24-22, #883-12.


Ranunculus parviflorus (Smallflower Buttercup, etc.) on 5-24-22, #883-13.

I will continue taking photos of the Ranunculus parviflorus. I have to get close-ups of the fruit and better flower photos.

I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 250 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.


NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂

Ranunculus parviflorus (Stickseed Crowfoot) on 4-23-20, #690-89.



Ranunculus parviflorus (Stickseed Crowfoot) on 4-23-20, #690-90.



Ranunculus parviflorus (Stickseed Crowfoot) on 4-23-20, #690-90.



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