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Photo: Ranunculus lapponicus

Ranunculus lapponicus L.

Lapland Buttercup

Habitat: Subarctic regions, moss and wet woods, usually under cedar. [Conifer forest (forest, upland); Forested wetland]

Range: Subarctic; locally south to northern Maine and west to British Columbia, Alaska, and northern Asia.

Aids to Identification: Each slender flowering stem, 10-20 cm tall, is accompanied by one or two three-lobed leaves with long petioles, all rising from an extensively creeping rootstock. The flower, 8-12 mm wide, has 5 or 6 yellow petals and later develops into a rounded head of achenes. This species has only 3 (rarely 4) sepals. Most crowfoots have 5 sepals.

Photo: Ranunculus lapponicus

Ecological characteristics: In Maine, at least, this plant is apparently restricted to heavily wooded sphagnum bogs, and is never abundant, but rather is distributed in small, inconspicuous patches.

Phenology: Flowers June - July.

Family: Ranunculaceae

Synonyms: Formerly known as Coptidium lapponicum (L.) Gandog.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 6 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook.

Dates of documented observations are: 1941, 1987, 1989, 1997 (2), 1998, 2000, 2002 (3)

Reason(s) for rarity: Disjunct from principal range, habitat naturally scarce.

Conservation considerations: Appears to be fairly secure at its few known locations. The effects of logging are unknown, but partial removal of the canopy would be less likely to be detrimental than would be complete canopy removal.

For more information, see the New England Wild Flower Society's Conservation Plan for Ranunculus lapponicus-pdf link-134 KB.