San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Ranunculus sceleratus
Cursed Buttercup



Annual, herbaceous plant to 0.4 m tall; stems hollow, leaves deeply lobed, flowers with small yellow petals, fruits arranged in an ovoid to subcylindric cluster; prefers wet soils along streambanks, or the margins of lakes and ponds.

General Distribution

Found in northeastern California in the Cascade ranges, down through the Central Valley, to higher elevation wet areas in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, to the eastern USA and Europe.

Comments and Importance of Discovery

This is a native plant species for California. This new record extends the range to its southernmost distribution in the state. There are 6 species (7 taxa) in the genus Ranunculus known to occur in San Diego County. The Cursed Buttercup is similar to R. cymbalaria var. saximontanus with its small, yellow flowers and habitat preferences, but can easily be distinguished by its deeply lobed leaves, annual habit, and lack of stolons. More populations should be looked for in other wet areas, especially around ponds in the higher elevation mountains of San Diego County.

Close-up of Ranunculus sceleratus, photo by Jeannie Gregory

Ranunculus sceleratus, photo by Jeannie Gregory

Text by Jon Rebman, Ph.D.; photos by Jeannie Gregory

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