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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Arctic Buttercup - Ranunculus grayi
Other Names:  Ranunculus karelinii, Ranunculus verecundus, Ranunculus gelidus

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S3
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
C-value: 9

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Also includes R. verecundus, which was formerly tracked as a separate Species of Concern.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Arctic Buttercup (Ranunculus grayi) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/21/2013
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

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

    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.

    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.

    CommentTrends are unknown.


    Score0-1 - Low to Medium.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0-1 - Low to Moderate Vulnerability.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 5 to 7 total points scored out of a possible 16 (Rarity factors and threats only).

General Description
Arctic Buttercup is a short-lived perennial with fibrous roots and 1 to several slender, erect or ascending stems that are 3-20 cm tall. The basal leaves have long petioles and broadly spade-shaped blades that are 1-2 cm long and deeply palmately divided into 3-13 oblong lobes. Stem leaves are lacking or reduced to small, 3-lobed, leaf-like bracts. Foliage is glabrous to sparsely short-hairy above. Flowers are generally solitary at the stem tips. The 5 spreading or reflexed, purplish sepals are 2-5 mm long, and the yellow petals are 3-5 mm long and narrow into a short basal stem. There are numerous stamens. There are 30-80 glabrous achenes; each ca. 1-2 mm long with a short beak and borne in a short-cylindric cluster.

Flowering in June-August, fruiting in August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Ranunculus is a large genus; a technical manual should be consulted for positive identification.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
AK south through WA and OR to UT and CO (Kartesz in prep. 2012).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 31

(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)

Gravelly, usually moist, sparsely-vegetated soils of benches, moraines and open slopes near timberline or in the alpine zone.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

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
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (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?
    • 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.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Arctic Buttercup"
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Citation for data on this website:
Arctic Buttercup — Ranunculus grayi.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from