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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Northern Buttercup - Ranunculus pedatifidus

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Unknown
C-value: 9

Agency Status
USFS: Species of Conservation Concern in Forests (HLC)


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana. Documented in the state from several collections. Additional data are needed to more precisely determine the species' status.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Northern Buttercup (Ranunculus pedatifidus) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/21/2013
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score2 - Small: Generally 2,000-10,000 individuals.

    CommentDescribed as common at some of the collection locations.

    Range Extent

    Score1 - Peripheral, Disjunct or Sporadic Distribution in MT: Widespread species that is peripheral, disjunct or sporadically distributed within MT such that it occurs in <5% of the state (<7,500 sq. miles or the combined area of Beaverhead and Ravalli Counties) or is restricted to 4-5 sub-basins.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score2 - Low: Generally occurring in 4-10 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    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.


    Score1-2 - Medium to High.

    CommentInvasive species and resource development have been identified as real or potential threats.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score1 - Moderate Vulnerability: Specific biological attributes, unusual life history characteristics or limited reproductive potential makes the species susceptible to extirpation from stochastic events or other adverse impacts to its habitat and slow to recover.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 8 to 9 total points scored out of a possible 16 (Rarity factors and threats only).

General Description
Northern Buttercup is an herbaceous perennial with fibrous roots and 1 to several erect stems that are 1-3 dm high. Each basal leaf has a petiole that is 3-8 cm long and a spade-shaped blade that is 5-12 cm long and deeply palmately lobed. The few stem leaves have 5-7 linear lobes and become sessile upward. Foliage is sparsely to densely covered with long hair. The 1 to several long-stalked flowers have 5 spreading, hairy sepals that are 5-6 mm long, and the 5 yellow petals are 8-10 mm long. The 25-80 finely short-hairy to glabrous achenes are 2 mm long have a curved beak that is 1 mm long, and are borne in an egg-shaped cluster.

Flowering in June-August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Ranunculus is a large genus; a technical manual should be consulted for identification. R. verecundus has smaller petals than R. pedatifidus, and the leaf margins of R. cardiophyllus are merely toothed.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Circumpolar, south in w. North America to AZ and NM. Sparse.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 16

(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)

Moist meadows and open woodlands in the montane to alpine zones.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus auricomus, Bombus bifarius, Bombus nevadensis, and Bombus bimaculatus (Macior 1968, Thorp et al. 1983).

Threats or Limiting Factors
Reported threats to Montana's population of Northern Buttercup include livestock, oil and gas drilling and invasive non-native species (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Macior, L.M. 1968. Bombus (Hymenoptera, Apidae) queen foraging in relation to vernal pollination in Wisconsin. Ecology 49:20-25.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Fertig, W. and M. Bynum. 1994. Biological report on the proposed Twin Lakes Research Natural Area. Unpublished report to the Shoshone National Forest. Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, Laramie, Wyoming. 33 pp. plus appendices.
    • Heidel, B.L. 1994. Sensitive plant survey in the Sweetgrass Hills, Liberty and Toole Counties, Montana. Unpublished report for the Great Falls Resource Area, Lewistown District, Bureau of Land Management. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT.
    • 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.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Northern Buttercup — Ranunculus pedatifidus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from