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Photo: Ranunculus gmelinii

Ranunculus gmelinii DC.

Small Yellow Water Crowfoot

Habitat: Springy rills, clear cold ponds, shores and meadows. [Open water (non-forested, wetland)]

Photo: Ranunculus gmelinii

Range: Eastern Quebec and Nova Scotia to Alaska, south to Maine, Michigan and Minnesota. Also in Asia.

Aids to Identification:This species differs from the common buttercup in being semi-aquatic, the elongate stems creeping or floating in shallow water or sprawling on muddy shores or in meadows. The underwater leaves have long stalks, are flaccid in texture, and are semi-transparent. The above-water leaves are thicker with 3 to 5 lobes. The golden-yellow, 5-petaled flowers occur in clusters of one to four and mature into a cluster of achenes (dry fruits containing seeds) in a rounded head. These achenes have a persistent style that protrudes like a beak. It somewhat resembles R. flabellaris, the yellow water crowfoot, a species that is more common in Maine. R. gmelinii is recognized by its smaller size (petals 3-7 mm long, achenes 1-1.6 mm long with a beak 0.4-0.8 mm long) and achenes that are not thickened and spongy in the basal half.

Photo: Ranunculus gmelinii

Ecological characteristics: Ecological relationships in Maine are not well known.

Phenology: Flowers in July and August.

Family: Ranunculaceae

Synonyms: Formerly known as Ranunculus gmelinii DC. var. hookeri (D. Don) L. Benson and also var. purshii (Richards.) Hara.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 9 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook, Penobscot.

Dates of documented observations are: 1909, 1937, 1939, 1941, 1985 (2), 1986 (2), 1991

Reason(s) for rarity: At the southern limit of its range in Maine.

Conservation considerations: Effects of logging are unknown, but partial removal of the canopy would be less likely to adversely affect the plant than complete removal.