Wildflowers - Sagebrush Buttercup

Sagebrush Buttercup
Ranunculus glaberrimus
Buttercup family

What it looks like:

Sagebrush buttercup is a low growing herbaceous plant with striking yellow flowers. It is one of the first signs of spring in sagebrush country! The flowers normally have 5 shiny, waxy-looking yellow petals that turn white with age. Numerous bright yellow stamens (tiny pollen bearing structures) fill the flower center. Stems can have one to several flowers. Leaves are dark green with both smooth and lobed edges.

Flowers of sagebrush buttercup can appear as early as late March in lower elevations and can be found in mountain valleys in May.

Where it grows:
This early spring jewel prefers moist habitats ranging from sagebrush flats to ponderosa pine forests. Sagebrush buttercup is one of more than forty buttercup species that grow in the northern Rocky Mountains.

In early spring, look for sagebrush buttercup in woodland meadows and open sagebrush habitats around Idaho City, Cascade and Garden Valley.

What's in a name:
Buttercups get their common name because the shiny yellow petals resemble a dab of butter. The genus name, "Ranunculus," comes from the Latin words "rana" for frog and "unculus" for little - referring to the wet habitat of some buttercup species. The species name "glaberrimus" means smooth.

Interesting Facts:
Buttercups as a group are poisonous. The caustic sap can blister or ulcerate the skin - do not put plant parts in mouth! One species contains chemicals so harsh and poisonous that it can cause stomach pain if even a small portion of a leaf is eaten. Buttercups can be poisonous to livestock. However, the sagebrush buttercup is an important spring food of blue grouse.

Buttercup petals have a nectar gland at the base of each petal.



Edible and medicinal plant values are furnished as historical information only.
We are not encouraging harvesting native plants for food and/or medicine.