Small-flowered Crowfoot

Small-flowered Crowfoot
Small-flowered Crowfoot. Ranunculus abortivus.
Ranunculaceae, the crowfoot or buttercup family.

Plant: Branching, upright plant, 1'-2' tall with small-petaled, yellow flowers, palmately lobed, mostly basal leaves. Perennial.
Flowers: Yellow, 1/4"-3/8", with five petals that are small compared to the center of the flower, five sepals, larger than the petals, about 20 stamens in a single ring. Flower has a large, swollen center that grows out rapidly to form a typical buttercup seed cluster. Flowers in small, cymose clusters.
Leaves: Basal and alternate, with a lot of variation on the same plant. Lower leaves round to kidney shaped, petioled, and usually deeply 3-lobed, though there are often some that are merely toothed. Upper leaves nearly sessile, bract-like beneath flowers, and dissected into narrow lobes further down.
Fruit: An ovoid cluster of small, seed-like fruits (achenes). The young achenes are shiny, and have a very small beak. These characteristics distinguish this plant from some similar species.
Blooming: Late April-June
Habitat: Damp woods, clearings.

Comments: A rather unprepossessing, native buttercup, the flowers appearing rather dwarfed. Also called Kidney-leafed Buttercup and Little-leaf buttercup. One of several small-flowered buttercups in our area, distinguished by details of the fruit, leaves and flowers. The juice is acrid, and can cause blistering of the skin if left in contact for a few minutes.

Where to find it: A few open spots in the woods. Not extremely common here.