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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

High Northern Buttercup - Ranunculus hyperboreus
Other Names:  Ranunculus natans

Potential Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 9

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Known from several southwest and south-central counties in Montana. See rank details for additional information.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    High Northern Buttercup (Ranunculus hyperboreus) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/20/2013
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score1-2 - Small to Moderate. Population size is imprecisely known but is believed to be >2,000 individuals and <100,000 individuals.

    CommentPrecise population data are not available. Most observations that provide qualitative abundance information describe it as being common or abundant.

    Range Extent

    Score0 - Widespread species within Montana (occurs in 5% or more of the state or generally occurring in 6 or more sub-basins.) as well as outside of Montana.

    CommentOccurs in at least 7 sub-basins.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score1-2 - Low to Moderate. Occurs in 4-25 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s), though the species' distribution is not sufficiently documented to place it within one class.

    Environmental Specificity

    Score1 - Moderate: Species is restricted to a specific habitat that is more widely distributed or to several restricted habitats and is typically dependent upon relatively unaltered, good-quality habitat (C Values of 5-7).


    ScoreNA - Rank factor not assessed.

    CommentTrends are unknown.


    Score0-1 - Low to Medium.

    CommentDue to the types of habitat occupied by the species, limited impacts probably occur from time to time from grazing, hydrological changes, etc but the scope and severity probably are not widespread or severe.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0-1 - Low to Moderate Vulnerability.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 3 to 7 total points scored out of a possible 16 (Rarity factors and threats only).

General Description
Arctic buttercup is a glabrous perennial herb with prostrate stems called stolons that root at the nodes. The alternate leaves have long petioles and palmately 3-lobed leaves that are 5-10 mm long and at least as wide. Solitary, stalked flowers arise from the leaf axils. Sepals are 2-3 mm long, and the yellow petals are 2-4 mm long. There are 15-20 glabrous achenes; each is ca. 1 mm long, has a short beak, and is borne in a nearly globose cluster.

Flowering and fruiting in August.

Species Range

Range Comments
AK to Greenland south in the Rocky Mtns. to CO (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 24

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Wet soil around ponds, seeps, springs and along streams from montane to alpine.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • King, C. R. 1953. The Ranunculaceae of Montana. M.S. Thesis, Bozeman, MT: Montana State College. 82 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Tuinstra, K. E. 1967. Vegetation of the floodplains and first terraces of Rock Creek near Red Lodge, Montana. Ph.D dissertation. Montana State University, Bozeman 110 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
High Northern Buttercup — Ranunculus hyperboreus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from