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western buttercup


never tuberous.


erect to reclining, not rooting nodally, hirsute or sometimes pilose or glabrous, base not bulbous.

Basal leaf

blades broadly ovate to semicircular or reniform in outline, 3-parted or -foliolate, 1.5-5.3 × 2.2-8 cm, segments usually again 1(-2)×-lobed, ultimate segments oblong or elliptic to lanceolate or oblanceolate, margins dentate (sometimes dentate-lobulate or entire), apex acute to rounded-obtuse.


receptacle glabrous;

sepals reflexed 2-3 mm above base, 4-7(-9) × 2-4 mm, hirsute;

petals 5-14, yellow, 5-13 × 1.5-8 mm.

Heads of achenes

hemispheric, 3-7 × 5-9 mm;

achenes 2.6-3.6(-4.8) × 1.8-3(-3.2) mm, glabrous, rarely hispid, margin forming narrow rib 0.1-0.2 mm wide;

beak persistent, lanceolate to lance-subulate, straight or curved, 0.4-2.2 mm.

Ranunculus occidentalis

from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

Varieties 7

The seeds of Ranunculus occidentalis were eaten by some Californian Indians. D. E. Moerman (1986) identified this taxon as an Aleut poison: juice of the flowers could be slipped into food to poison the person who ate it.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Petals 8-14; Queen Charlotte Islands, B.C.
var. hexasepalus
1. Petals 5-6; widespread.
→ 2
2. Stem 4-8 mm thick; beak of achene 1.8-2.4 mm, curved; coastal Alaska.
var. nelsonii
2. Stem 1-3(-4) mm thick; beak of achene either 0.4-1.4 mm and curved, or 1.2-2.2 mm and straight; widespread.
→ 3
3. Beak of achene straight, 1.2-2.2 mm; Oregon and northernmost California.
→ 4
3. Beak of achene curved, 0.4-1.4 mm; widespread.
→ 5
4. Ultimate segments of leaves lanceolate to oblanceolate.
var. dissectus
4. Ultimate segments of leaves elliptic.
var. howellii
5. Petals 1.5-2.5 mm wide; beak of achene 0.4-1.2 mm; stems ± reclining; Sierra Nevada, above 1000m.
var. ultramontanus
5. Petals 3-8 mm wide; beak of achene (0.6-)1-1.4 mm; stems erect or reclining; widespread.
→ 6
6. Stems pilose or glabrous; Alaska to c British Columbia and Alberta.
var. brevistylis
6. Stems hirsute, sometimes glabrous; California to sw British Columbia.
var. occidentalis
Source FNA vol. 3.
Parent taxa Ranunculaceae > Ranunculus > subg. Ranunculus > sect. Ranunculus
Sibling taxa
R. abortivus, R. acriformis, R. acris, R. adoneus, R. alismifolius, R. allegheniensis, R. allenii, R. ambigens, R. andersonii, R. aquatilis, R. arizonicus, R. arvensis, R. auricomus, R. austro-oreganus, R. bonariensis, R. bulbosus, R. californicus, R. canus, R. cardiophyllus, R. cooleyae, R. cymbalaria, R. eschscholtzii, R. fascicularis, R. fasciculatus, R. ficaria, R. flabellaris, R. flammula, R. gelidus, R. glaberrimus, R. glacialis, R. gmelinii, R. gormanii, R. harveyi, R. hebecarpus, R. hederaceus, R. hispidus, R. hydrocharoides, R. hyperboreus, R. hystriculus, R. inamoenus, R. jovis, R. kamtschaticus, R. lapponicus, R. laxicaulis, R. lobbii, R. macauleyi, R. macounii, R. macranthus, R. marginatus, R. micranthus, R. muricatus, R. nivalis, R. oresterus, R. orthorhynchus, R. pacificus, R. pallasii, R. parviflorus, R. pedatifidus, R. pensylvanicus, R. platensis, R. populago, R. pusillus, R. pygmaeus, R. ranunculinus, R. recurvatus, R. repens, R. rhomboideus, R. sabinei, R. sardous, R. sceleratus, R. sulphureus, R. testiculatus, R. trilobus, R. triternatus, R. turneri, R. uncinatus
Subordinate taxa
R. occidentalis var. brevistylis, R. occidentalis var. dissectus, R. occidentalis var. hexasepalus, R. occidentalis var. howellii, R. occidentalis var. nelsonii, R. occidentalis var. occidentalis, R. occidentalis var. ultramontanus
Name authority Nuttall: in J. Torrey & A. Gray, Fl. N. Amer. 1: 22. (1838)
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