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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


There are 3 types of buttercups found in Ontario: celery-leaved, tall and creeping.

Scientific Names: Celery-leaved buttercup, Ranunculus sceleratus L.; Tall buttercup, Ranunculus acris L.; Creeping buttercup, Ranunculus repens L.

Other Names

Celery-leaved Buttercup Tall Buttercup Creeping Buttercup
  • Renoncule scélérate
  • Cursed crowfoot
  • Renoncule âcre
  • Field buttercup
  • Meadow buttercup
  • Tall crowfoot
  • Tall field buttercup
  • Bouton-d’or
  • Renoncule rampante
  • Petite-douve

Family: Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)

General Description

Celery-leaved Buttercup Tall Buttercup Creeping Buttercup
  • Perennial
  • Reproducing by seed and by trailing horizontal stems which root at the nodes


Celery-leaved Buttercup Tall Buttercup Creeping Buttercup
  • Found in southern and western Ontario in swamps, ditches, road-sides pastures, fields, mudflats and the edges of ponds and lakes.
  • One of the most common weeds of pastures, meadows, and road-sides throughout Ontario. It can grow in a wide variety of habitats.
  • Occurs in scattered localities throughout Ontario in habitats similar to tall buttercup, but is much less common.



Celery-leaved Buttercup Tall Buttercup Creeping Buttercup
  • Erect
  • 5- 60 cm (2- 24 in.) high
  • Stout
  • Hollow
  • Smooth
  • Branched above
  • Often somewhat succulent
  • Erect
  • 30- 100 cm (12- 40 in.) high
  • Hairy throughout
  • Branched in the upper part
  • 1 or several from a thick rootstalk with numerous, spreading, coarse, fibrous roots
  • Prostrate or nearly erect
  • 20- 30 cm (8- 12 in.) high
  • Ranging from smooth to densely hairy


Celery-leaved Buttercup Tall Buttercup Creeping Buttercup
  • Succulent
  • Long-stalked
  • Somewhat kidney-shaped in outline and distinctly 3-lobed to nearly 3-parted
  • The segments cleft or lobed or with rounded teeth
  • Upper leaves much smaller, commonly either having 3 linear oblong segments with entire, or only slightly, toothed divisions, or simple
  • Basal and alternate
  • Softly hairy
  • Very deeply lobed and toothed
  • Basal and lower leaves long-stalked
  • Blade deeply divided into 5 lobes irregularly jagged or coarsely toothed
  • Middle similar to lower leaves but nearly stalkless
  • Upper leaves progressively smaller with fewer and smoother lobes
  • Base of each leafstalk flattened and partly surrounding the stem at each node
  • Alternate
  • Often clustered
  • Mostly with long stalks
  • The blades 3-parted
  • Middle segment with a distinct short stalk
  • Each segment lobed and toothed


Celery-leaved Buttercup Tall Buttercup Creeping Buttercup
  • Numerous but borne singly on long stalks at the ends of branches
  • The whole inflorescence either rounded or elongated
  • Sepals: 2- 5 mm (1/12- 1/5 in.) long with soft hairs
  • Petals: pale yellow, 1- 5 mm (1/25- 1/5 in.) long
  • Stamens: many in a ring surrounding the many tiny pistils
  • Seeds: individually very small, 0.8- 1.4 mm (1/30- 1/20 in.) long, but very numerous in a short cylindrical cluster
  • Flowers from May to September
  • Grouped on long stalks in a much-branched inflorescence
  • Bright yellow
  • 2- 3 cm (4/5- 1 ¼ in.) in diameter
  • 5 sepals: green and small
  • 5 petals
  • Stamens: numerous around the cluster of tiny pistils
  • Seeds: 3 mm (1/8 in.) long, flattened, egg-shaped in outline with short hooked tip
  • Flowering and setting seed from late May throughout the summer and fall
  • Similar to tall buttercup
  • Flowers from April to July

Often Confused With
Wood-sorrel (Wood-sorrel’s growth is less upright and its flowers aren’t as large or showy)

Caution: The buttercups have a bitter, acrid juice which causes severe pain and inflammation when grazed by livestock. They are normally avoided, but when other feed becomes scarce they may be grazed with serious consequences.


Celery-leaved buttercup Celery-leaved buttercup Creeping buttercup Tall buttercup Tall buttercup
Click to enlarge.