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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.


Creeping buttercup Tall buttercup Celery-leaved buttercup Creeping and tall buttercup Buttercup leaf Buttercup leaf Buttercup Buttercup
Click to enlarge.