Stems erect to reclining, not rooting nodally, hirsute or sometimes pilose or glabrous, base not bulbous. Roots never tuberous. 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. Flowers: 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.


Alta., B.C., Yukon, Alaska, Calif., Nev., Oreg., Wash.


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.

Selected References



1 Petals 8-14; Queen Charlotte Islands, B.C. Ranunculus occidentalis 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. Ranunculus occidentalis 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. Ranunculus occidentalis var. dissectus
4 Ultimate segments of leaves elliptic. Ranunculus occidentalis var. howellii
5 Petals 1.5-2.5 mm wide; beak of achene 0.4-1.2 mm; stems ± reclining; Sierra Nevada, above 1000m. Ranunculus occidentalis 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. Ranunculus occidentalis var. brevistylis
6 Stems hirsute, sometimes glabrous; California to sw British Columbia. Ranunculus occidentalis var. occidentalis