Ranunculus laxicaulis (Torr. & A. Gray) Darby

Water Plantain, Spearwort

Ranunculus laxicaulis plant

Family - Ranunculaceae

Ranunculus_laxicaulis_leavesStems and leaves.

Stem - Glabrous or nearly so, branched, weakly ascending, often reclining in aquatic habitats. Bases not bulbous. Roots not tuberous.

Ranunculus_laxicaulis_stemStem and leaves.

Leaves - Basal leaves long-petiolate, oblong or ovate, usually absent at flowering. Stem leaves to 7 cm, simple, sessile, entire or few-toothed toward the tips, ovate to narrowly elliptic to linear.

Ranunculus_laxicaulis_leafMid-stem leaf.

Flowers - Sepals 4 or 5, to 3.0 mm long, spreading or reflexed, deciduous at anthesis. Petals 4-6, 2-6 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, oblong, about as long as to somewhat longer than the sepals, yellow.

Ranunculus_laxicaulis_flower1Flower; sepals deciduous.



Fruits - Fruit clusters globose, 2-4 mm long at maturity, the receptacle glabrous. Achenes 0.8-1.0 mm long, the dorsal margin keeled and sometimes very narrowly winged, the wall thick, smooth, glabrous, the beak 0.1-0.2 mm long, flattened, triangular, straight or bent to the side.


Flowering - April - September.

Habitat - Margins of ponds, sinkhole ponds, sloughs, streams, wet swales. Terrestrial or emergent aquatic.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This little Ranunculus is uncommon in Missouri. Like other members of the genus, its flowers are glossy yellow. Although the flowers are quite small, their abundance provides a bright sprinkling of color in the wet places where the plant is found. In Missouri it occurs in scattered counties in the southern half of the state.

Photographs taken at a sinkhole pond at Western Star Flatwoods, Phelps County, MO, 6-9-2018 (SRTurner).