RANUNCULACEAE the Crowfoot or Buttercup Family (to Genus key)

Family Characters: Perennial (sometimes annual) herbs or occasionally herbaceous or woody vines or subshrubs. Leaves estipulate or with minute stipules, commonly basal, if cauline then alternate (in a few genera opposite or whorled), often with sheathing bases, entire to toothed, lobed, or compound. Flowers mostly regular, some irregular and hooded or spurred, solitary or in racemes or panicles, generally perfect, sometimes unisexual, most often with all parts free. Sepals usually imbricate, varying from small and caducous to petaloid. Petals present or absent, variable in number, often with nectaries. Stamens usually many, sometimes petaloid. Carpels superior, 1 to many, simple, free, style and stigma one, ovules 1 to many per pistil. Fruit a cluster of achenes, follicles, or berries (rarely [Nigella damascena] pistils fused and fruit capsular--never so in ours); seeds with endosperm.

There are about 58 genera and 1,750 species in temperate and boreal regions; 11 genera and about 50 species in TX; 8 genera and 18 species in the Navasota flora.

Many species have poisonous and/or useful alkaloids (Belladonna, Aconitum, etc.). Many, such as are grown for ornament--Buttercup (Ranunculus), Larkspur (Delphinium), Monkshood (Aconitum), Columbine (Aquilegia), Windflower (Anemone), and many more. Images of some Ranunculaceae from Wisconsin (UW-Madison) can be examined (here). Also have a look at descriptive materials for this family from the Delta system (here).


Key to Genera of the Ranunculaceae:

Return to BOTN 201 or the key to dicot families (this document not being updated.)



1. CLEMATIS L. Clematis, Virgin's Bower (back to key to Genera)

Herbaceous (sometimes slightly woody) vines, climbing by twining petiolules, or herbs. Leaves petiolate to sessile, opposite, simple or pinnately compound. Flowers perfect or plants dioecious, axillary or terminal, solitary or in panicles, inconspicuous to showy, often nodding. Sepals 4(5 to 6), separate to slightly joined a the base, thin to leathery, white or variously colored, petaloid, valvate in bud, spreading to cupped. Petals absent or minute and passing into the stamens. Stamens many, the outer staminodial or all modified into staminodia in pistillate flowers of dioecious species. Pistils many, maturing into achenes, styles persistent, often long and pubescent to plumose or sometimes nearly naked.

About 250 species in temperate and subtropical zones; 11 species in TX; 3 in the Navasota flora. [synonyms for parts of the genus include Viorna and Atragene].

Many species are cultivated for ornament, and some have been bred with enormous flowers. These do not do very well in our area--our summers are too hot and Clematis prefer a cool root run.

Key to Species:



1. C. drummondii T. & G. Texas Virgin's Bower, Barbas de Chivato, Old Man's Beard. Foliage cinereous-pubescent. Leaves mostly with 5 to 7 leaflets, the uppermost ones simple but 3-cleft; leaflets 1.2 to 2.5 cm long, divergently 3- lobed or sometimes parted, primary lobes ovate-oblong to lanceolate or rhombic-ovate, acute to acuminate, entire or with 1 to 3 acute-acuminate teeth. Panicles few-flowered or sometimes flowers solitary with a pair of leaf-like bracts at the base, usually peduncles trichotomous and with small bracts on the lateral pedicels. Sepals greenish-white, ca. 12 mm long, oblong-lanceolate, sericeous on the outer surface. Fruiting flowers with many sterile filaments as long as the sepals. Achene tails plumose, very slender, eventually to 7.5 to 10 cm long. Achene bodies to about 5 mm long, flattened, with 1 straight margin and 1 curved.

Dryish soils, dry creek beds, and rocky canyons, often climbing over shrubs and trees. Cen., S., and W. TX; TX to AZ and Mex. Apr.-Sept. Known from "near Old Independence," this presumably near Independence in Washington Co.

2. C. crispa L. Blue Jasmine, Curly Clematis, Leather-flower. Freely-climbing or weakly- ascending herbaceous vine, often flowering early when only ca. 30 cm tall. Stems many-angled, glabrous or nearly so. Petioles 1 to 6 cm long. Leaves pinnately compound, with 2 to 5 pairs of leaflets, leaflets petiolulate, ovate to lanceolate or linear, 1.5 to 10 cm long and 0.3 to 5 cm broad, apically obtuse, acute, or apiculate or acuminate, bases cuneate to cordate, entire (to rarely cleft in 3), membranaceous, usually with 3 primary veins noticeable beneath and not strongly reticulate. Peduncles solitary and terminal on each branch, arranged above a pair of compound (or rarely simple) leaves. Calyx cylindric-campanulate or long- urceolate-campanulate; sepals bluish, varying from rosy to violet, 2.5 to 5 cm long, recurved or spreading above the middle, this spreading portion with a thin, broad, crisped or undulating margin several mm broad, apex acuminate. Achene bodies 6 to 9 mm long, suborbicular to rhomboid, slightly sericeous, style canescent to villous or pilose in flower, in fruit 1 to 3 cm long and either finely appressed-pubescent or glabrate.

Wet soils, climbing over shrubs, along streams, and in low woodlands or on dry sandhills if water is available. E. TX W. to Calhoun and Williamson Cos.; FL to TX, N. to SE. VA, IL, and MO. Mar.-Oct. [C. cylindrica Sims, Viorna crispa (L.) Small, V. obliqua Small].

3. C. pitcheri T. & G. var. pitcheri Pitcher Clematis, Leather-flower, Bluebell, Pitcher-flower. Herbaceous vine, sometimes somewhat woody at base. Stems freely climbing, to several m long, simple or somewhat branched, 6-ribbed or -angled, reddish-brown, sparingly pubescent to glabrous. Cauline leaves with 3 to 5(11) leaflets, these variable in shape, simple to 2- to 5- lobed or 3-parted, stiffish or leathery, more or less reticulate-veined, to 3 to 9 cm long and 2.5 to 5 cm broad (broader if lobed), ultimate divisions ovate to elliptic to ovate-cordate, obtuse to acute, mucronate, smaller leaflets and tip of rachis often tendril-like. Peduncles axillary, usually with a pair of simple bracts near the base, 1- to 7-flowered. Flowers nodding, somewhat urn-shaped to ovoid, generally less than 4 cm wide. Sepals from slightly longer than the stamens to twice as long, less than 3.5 cm long, slightly connivent at the base, leathery, purplish to brick red outside, colored or green inside, recurved above the middle, pubescent, margins little if at all expanded, not crisped or ruffled, white tomentose. Head of achenes globose, ca. 1.6 to 2.8 cm broad (minus the tails.) Achene bodies orbicular to suborbicular to somewhat quadrangular, rather inequilateral, 6 to 8 mm broad, with a thick margin and appressed pubescence; achene tails 1.5 to 3 cm long, silky near the base and appressed-pubescent above or sometimes glabrate or villous, never plumose, slender, tapered above and often contorted or curved, frequently broken off short.

Climbing on other plants or sprawling along the ground. Thickets, open woods, along streams, and in lowlands. Primarily N. Cen. TX and Ed. Plat. and along the coast; IN to NE, S. to MO and TX. Apr.-Sept. [C. simsii and Viorna simsii of various authors, V. pitcheri (T. & G.) Small or (T. & G.) Britt.].

2. MYOSURUS L. Mousetail (back to key to Genera)

Small annual herbs from fibrous roots. Leaves in a basal tuft, linear-filiform or spatulate, entire. Flowers regular, solitary on scapes, yellowish or whitish. Calyx of 5 sepals spurred at the base, corolla of 5 small, narrow petals, these clawed and with a small, nectariferous pit a the apex of the claw. Stamens 5 to 20. Pistils many, fruiting structure a slender spike (occasionally an oblong head in depauperate species) of many achenes, these somewhat 3- to 4-sided, crowded on the long, slender receptacle.

About 15 species in temperate regions; 1 known from TX; others perhaps to be found.

1. M. minimus L. Mousetail, Tiny Mousetail. Characters as described for the genus. Plants 2 to 5 cm tall. Leaves narrowly linear to filiform, 1 to 10 cm long, 0.3 to 2.2 mm broad at the widest, equalling or shorter than the scapes, apically blunt, somewhat narrowed toward the base. Scapes 2 to 10 per plant, ca. 3 to 15 cm tall. Sepals oblong, (1.3)2 to 3.5(5.5) mm long, the acute, membranous spurs (0.7)1 to 3 mm long. Petals linear to narrowly spatulate, 2 to 3.5 mm long, about equaling the sepal blades, often caducous and sometimes absent entirely. Stamens (5)10(20). Fruiting receptacle (1.5)2 to 5 cm long and (1.5)2 to 3 mm thick, usually with many achenes. Achenes fitting closely together, somewhat quadrate-rhombic in face view, with a central stylar beak protruding from a short keel, rectangular or trapezoidal in side view, overall 0.9 to 2 mm long with beaks 0.5 mm long or shorter.

Damp clay or calcareous soils, fallow fields; throughout TX but primarily the central region; FL to TX, N. to E. VA and S. Ont., W. to IL, MN, Sask., CA and B.C.; also Eurasia.

3. CONSOLIDA Gray (back to key to Genera)

Naturalized annuals, stems simple to branched, leaves petiolate to sessile, pinnately or palmately divided, segments many, linear to filiform. Flowers in terminal, leafy-bracted or naked racemes, white to blue, violet, or pink (petals and sepals both colored), with a horizontal sepal spur, the other sepals 2 lateral and 2 lower; petals united. Gynoecium of a single carpel, maturing into a follicle.

About 40 species of the Mediterranean region and Europe; 2 species naturalized in TX; 1 in the Navasota flora. Some or all of the species are sometimes referred to the genus Delphinium.

The flowers are said to have been used to garland mummies in ancient Egypt.

1. C. ajacis (L.) Schroedinger Rocket Larkspur, Espuella de Caballero. Erect, slender, branched annual to ca. 1 m tall. Stems crisp-puberulent, glandular at least in the upper portion. Leaves several to many, short-petiolate to sessile, pinnately or palmately dissected into numerous linear-filiform segments, usually pubescent. Terminal racemes spiciform, loosely 3- to 19-flowered, leafy-bracted or naked, lowermost bracts filiform-dissected, not simple. Flowers blue to violet, purple, pink, or white. Sepals 5, the uppermost extended backwards into a spur 1 to 2 cm long; lateral sepals rhombic to ovate to suborbicular, 6 to 11 mm wide; lower sepals 8 to 15 mm long. Petals 2, united into a 4-lobed structure arching over the stamens and carpels and extending backwards within the sepal spur. Follicle ovoid, pubescent, 1 to 2 cm long; seeds covered with transverse broken ridges or ruffled scales. Roadsides, waste places, and old fields. Primarily Cen. and S. TX; native of Europe, escaped and spreading from cultivation in Can., U.S., and Mex. Apr.-Sept. [Delphinium ajacis L., Consolida ambigua (L.) Ball & Heywood.].

4. DELPHINIUM L. Larkspur (back to key to Genera)

Perennial herbs from fibrous, rhizomatous, or tuberous roots. Stems 1 to several, erect to virgate or ascending, simple to branched. Leaves alternate, at least the lower ones petiolate, blades often reniform in overall outline, palmately or rarely pinnately cleft or divided into 3 to 7 main lobes, each lobe usually further divided, ultimate divisions broadly linear to rounded or cuneate (not linear-filiform), commonly white-apiculate. Flowers few to many in terminal spike-like racemes or panicles, zygomorphic, blue to violet, purple, white or pink. Sepals colored, 5, the uppermost prolonged backward into a slender, horizontal spur. Petals 4, free, the upper pair extending backwards into spurs enclosed in the sepal spur, nectariferous, lower petals short-clawed, blades elliptical to orbicular, often bifid, bearded. Stamens usually many. Carpels 3, distinct, maturing into many- seeded follicles.

About 250 species of N. temperate regions; 3 or 4 species in TX (depending on interpretation). Dr. M. J. Warnock, the most recent monographer of our species, has identified all local specimens as subspecies of D. carolinianum.

Many species are cultivated for ornament. Most contain toxic alkaloids.

1. D. carolinianum Walt. Blue Larkspur. Plants virgate from unbranched, cormlike, vertical rootstocks or a cluster of several woody-fibrous or tuberous roots. Stems simple, to 1.5 m tall, variously pubescent throughout or glandular above and glabrous below. Leaves mostly near the base or distributed rather evenly along the stem, blades palmately divided into several primary segments which are entire to repeatedly divided, variously pubescent. Racemes lax to dense, flowers showy, white to dark blue-purple, pedicels erect to appressed or spreading, bracts subulate and inconspicuous to obsolete. Sepals ovate to ovate-oblong, rounded to blunt or acute at apex, 11 to 15 mm long, the spur straight or curved. Blades of lower petals short, included, upper petals various. Follicles erect, oblong, pubescent, seeds echinate. FL to TX, N. to CO and MN, S. and E. to IL, KY, TN, and GA.

Warnock recognizes four subspecies from TX. Two of these can be expected in our area.

subsp. vimineum (D. Don.) Warnock Plants usually from a single, vertical, swollen rhizome, 15 to 105 cm tall. Stem pubescence various, sometimes glandular. Petioles 3 to 15 cm long on both upper and lower leaves. Leaves basal or evenly distributed, 5 to 9 cm broad, 3-parted with few subdivisions, segments to 4 mm broad or broader, glabrous to sparingly pubescent. Inflorescences from axils of the upper leaves, often much-branched, pedicels more or less spreading. Sepals blue to white, spur 11 to 15 mm long, usually crossing the axis of the inflorescence at about 45o on the fully open flowers. Upper 2 petals usually white (sometimes light blue), the lower pair blue or white. E., NE., Cen. and coastal TX; also LA (SW AR?). Mar.-June. [D. vimineum D. Don, D. azureum Michx. var. vimineum (D. Don) A. Gray ex K. C. Davis, D. virescens Nutt. var. vimineum (D. Don) R. F. Martin].

This is by far our most common larkspur. M. J. Warnock has annotated all of our local specimens to this taxon.

subsp. virescens (Nutt.) Brooks White Plains Larkspur. Plants to 1.5 m, usually smaller, from a cluster of several deep-seated, woody- fibrous roots. Stems branched or unbranched, pubescent, often glandular. Petioles long on the lower leaves, reduced upwards. Leaves usually basal and cauline. Ultimate leaf divisions lanceolate or linear. Pedicels more or less appressed to axis of inflorescence. Sepals white or whitish to greenish or bluish, but not buff; spur 11 to 20 mm long, often curved upwards, crossing the stem nearly horizontally in fully open flowers. Petals whitish. Sandy open slopes, woods, pastures, fields, and ditches. Ed. Plat. to N. Cen. TX and Panhandle, S. to Rio Grande Plains and coast; Albta. to MN and ND, S. to OK and TX. Apr.-July. [D. virescens Nutt. var. virescens and var. macroceratilis (Rydb.) Cory, D. macroceratilis Rydb.].

This plant usually occurs to our W. Included in this treatment on the basis of a hybrid between this subsp. and subsp. vimineum as annotated by M. J. Warnock--if a hybrid exists in an area, presumably both parents do also.

5. ADONIS L. (back to key to Genera)

20 species of temperate Asia and Europe. Some species have digitalin-like alkaloids and some are cultivated for ornament. We have the 1 ornamental established in TX.

1. A. annua L. Pheasant's Eye. Annual herb from fibrous roots. Stems (15)20 to 60 cm tall, much- branched. Leaves alternate, petioles with broad, sheathing bases, overall 2 to 5 cm long, much dissected, the ultimate divisions linear-filiform. Flowers solitary, terminal, ca. 2 cm across, not opening wide but often pressed open in specimens, deep red with a dark center (color fading to yellow with purple-brown in some sheets). Sepals 5 to 8 in number, oblong, acute-cuspidate; petals 6 to 8, obovate, somewhat erose apically, concave, deciduous, longer than the calyx, but not much so. Stamens many, filaments filiform. Gynoecium of many simple, 1-ovuled pistils. Head of achenes 1 to 2 cm long, cylindric. Achenes 3 to 5 mm long, glabrous. Native to Eur., cultivated for ornament and established in the E. 1/3 TX. Spring-summer.

Without flowers, this plant may easily be mistaken for an immature umbellifer such as Daucus.

6. RANUNCULUS L.Buttercup, Crowfoot (back to key to Genera) or check out the Ranunculus Gallery

Annual and perennial aquatic, terrestrial, or palustrine herbs, usually from fibrous roots. Stems erect to procumbent, branched or simple. Leaves basal and/or cauline and alternate, simple or more commonly ternate or variously lobed or divided, often variable on a single plant, petioles with expanded bases. Flowers terminal (sometimes appearing axillary), solitary or in a corymbiform inflorescence, regular, perfect, hypogynous, inconspicuous to showy. Sepals 3 to 5 (or more), green to yellowish. Petals commonly 5 (more in some species through conversion of stamens to petals), generally yellow or white (rarely reddish or green, not so in ours), each with a nectariferous scale and or pit near the inner base. Stamens (5)10 to many, anthers oblong or linear. Pistils (5)10 to many, usually many, uniovulate, gynoecium maturing into an ovoid-cylindric head of achenes, style short to long, straight to hooked, usually persisting as a beach on the achene, achenes variously glabrous to pubescent, muricate, and/or keeled.

About 250 species of temperate and boreal regions; 18 in TX; 6 in the Navasota flora. Mature achenes are often necessary for positive identification. Images, of varying quality, representing some Ranunculus species of the Wisconson flora can be examined (here)

All species are poisonous and are usually avoided by stock. Some species are weedy while others are cultivated for ornament . The ornamentals are often from tuberous roots and frequently have double, brightly-colored flowers ranging from red and orange to yellow and white. According to childlore, if the glossy yellow of buttercup petals held under a person's chin is reflected on the chin, he or she "loves butter." Ranunculus is not to be confused with Oenothera (Onagraceae), often called Buttercup in our area. These do not reflect color but may be used to dust someone's chin with pollen, demonstrating again a love of butter.

Key to Species:



1. R. laxicaulis (T. & G) Darby Many-flowered Spearwort, Water Plantain, Spearwort. Terrestrial or shallow-water emergent. Plants annual, essentially glabrous, slender, from fibrous roots. Stems hollow, erect to reclining, sometimes rooting at the lowermost nodes, 1.5 to 5(8) dm tall, freely branched. Leaves all simple, petioles of basal and lower cauline leaves 1 to 7 cm long (longer if emergent), blades ovate to oblong, 1 to 5 cm long, 6 to 18 mm broad, shallowly dentate to serrulate or entire, rounded or truncate at the base, obtuse to truncate at the apex (rarely acute); stipular leaf bases ca. 1 cm long. Upper cauline leaves attenuate, sessile, linear-elliptic to lanceolate or oblanceolate, 1.5 to 4 cm long, 2 to 6 mm wide, acute, dentate to denticulate. Inflorescence often well-branched; pedicels to 2 cm long in flower and 6 cm in fruit. Sepals 5, greenish to yellow, ovate, spreading, 1.5 to 3 mm long, to 1.5 mm broad, glabrous to sparsely pubescent, promptly deciduous. Petals 5 (rarely to 10), yellow, 3 to 9 mm long, 1.5 to 2.5 mm broad, exceeding the sepals. Nectary scale adnate tot he petal along the lateral edges, forming a pocket, glabrous, 0.3 to 0.5 mm long, truncate or with the margins prolonged. Stamens 10 to 30. Achenes 15 to 30(50) in each hemispheric to ovoid (rarely cylindrical) head, heads 2 to 4 mm long, 2 to 2.5 mm in diameter. Achene body plump, obovate to subglobose, 0.6 to 0.7(1.1) mm long, about as thick as broad, smooth, glabrous, the margin inconspicuous, style 0.1 to 0.5 mm long; receptacle pyriform or spherical, 1.5 to 2 mm long in flower, 1.5 to 3 mm in fruit, glabrous. Boggy lakeshores, ditches, marshes, etc. SE. TX; CT to MO, IL, E. KS, S. to FL and TX. Mar.-May. [R. texensis Engelm., R. pusillus of some authors, but not Poir., R. obtusiusculus Raf., R. oblongifolius sensu Small, R. mississippiensis Small].

Similar to R. pusillus, but with larger, showier flowers and rarely with cylindric fruiting heads.

2. R. pusillus Poir Spearwort. Terrestrial or shallow-water emergent. Plants annual, glabrous or rarely pubescent, from fibrous roots. Stems hollow, weak, often reclining and commonly rooting at the lowermost nodes, simple or more often branched, 1 to 5 dm long. Basal and lower (and usually middle) cauline leaves with petioles 1 to 6 cm long, blades ovate to oblong or rarely cordate, entire to crenate or irregular, truncate to rounded basally, rounded to truncate or acute apically, to 5 cm long, 5 to 15 mm broad; stipular leaf bases to 1 cm long. Upper cauline and bracteal leaves alternate, sessile, lanceolate to linear, oblan-ceolate, or narrowly elliptic, 1 to 5 cm long, 2 to 5 mm broad, entire to slightly dentate. Inflorescence often well-branched, more or less paniculate; pedicels to 15 mm long in flower and ca. 6 cm long in fruit, glabrous. Sepals 5, spreading, greenish-yellow, generally ovate, 1 to 2 mm long, 0.8 to 1 mm broad, glabrous to sparsely pubescent, promptly deciduous. Petals 1 to 3(5), pale yellow, inconspicuous, obovate, 1.5 to 2.5 mm long and 1 mm wide. Nectary scale glabrous, truncate, attenuate laterally and forming a pocket 0.2 mm deep. Stamens 5 to 10. Fruiting heads hemispheric--to ca. 4 mm in diam., ovoid--2 to 4 mm long and 2 to 2.5 mm broad, or cylindric--5 to 8 mm long and 2 to 3 mm broad. Achenes as many as 125 per head, obovate or oblong-obovate, ca. 1 mm long, smooth or papillate (or finely reticulate), glabrous, the sides convex and the margins inconspicuous; style in flower 0.1 to 0.2 mm long; receptacle pyriform or spherical, 1.5 to 2 mm long in flower, 1.5 to 3 mm long in fruit, glabrous. Shallow water or mud in ditches, bogs, marshes, ponds, seeps, open woods, and thickets. E. 1/4 TX, W. to Burnet Co.; SE. NY to N. FL, W. to TX, N. again to MO, IN, OH; also CA. Mar.- May. [includes var. angustifolius (Engelm.) L. Benson, R. tener Mohr., R. lindheimeri Engelm.].

3. R. muricatus L. Annual, winter annual, (or perennial.) Plants terrestrial, glabrous or pubes-cent, somewhat cespitose. Stems not rooting, erect or reclining, not markedly hollow, freely branched, usually several from near the base, shorter than the basal leaves and plants 5 to 15 cm tall, or else more robust and with flowering stems 2 to 5 dm tall. Leaves basal and cauline. Basal and lower stem leaves with petioles (2)4 to 15(18) cm long, variable; blades simple, orbicular to broadly cordate, subreniform or semicircular, 2 to 5 cm long, 2 to 6 cm broad, deeply 3-lobed, the lobes shallowly to strongly crenate or crenately lobed, basally cordate to truncate, apically rounded; stipular leaf bases 1 to 2 cm long. Cauline leaves alternate, similar to basal but smaller and petioles shorter; bracteal leaves sessile. Pedicels 0.5 to 2 cm long in flower, 2 to 6 cm long in fruit, glabrous. Sepals 5, greenish, ovate, spreading, 4 to 7 mm long, 2 to 3 mm broad, mucronate, with a few bristles, promptly deciduous. Petals 5, yellow, spatulate or obovate, 5 to 8 mm long, 3 to 4 mm broad; nectary scale glabrous, truncate, attached laterally and forming a pocket narrower than adjacent part of petal. Stamens few. Head of achenes globose, 1 to 1.3 cm in diameter. Achenes 10 to 20, asymmetrical, obovate, the body 4 to 5 mm long, 3 to 3.5 mm broad, faces covered with straight or curved spines, minutely punctate-alveolate between the spines, margin prominent, keeled; beaks straight or falcate, base stout, subulate tip 2 to 2.5 mm long. Receptacle subglobose, ca. 1 mm long in flower, to 2 mm long in fruit, hispid. Grassy banks, roadsides, sandy marshes, along ponds and streams, or in shallow water. E. 1/4 TX; naturalized from Eur. from SC to N. FL, W. to AR, LA, TX. Apr.-June.

4. R. macranthus Scheele Large Buttercup. Perennial from stout or somewhat tuberous roots. Plants terrestrial, glabrous or more commonly strongly hirsute. Stems hollow, densely hirsute, suberect to reclining, not rooting at the lower nodes, to 1 m tall, but usually much shorter. Leaves basal and cauline, basal leaves petiolate, petioles hirsute, to 30 cm long; stipular bases ca. 1 to 3 cm long; blades pinnately compound or sometimes simple and lobed, overall oblong-ovate in outline, 4 to 23 cm long, 3 to 25 cm broad, leaflets usually 3 to 7, basally truncate to obtuse, acute to obtuse at the apex, variously crenate to serrate or lobed, appressed-hispidulous. Flowers commonly few per plant, pedicels to 11 cm long at anthesis and 30 cm long in fruit, appressed-pubescent. Sepals 5, yellow-green, ovate-attenuate, 6 to 10 mm long, 3 to 5 mm broad, reflexed, appressed-pilose externally, promptly deciduous. Petals 8 to 18, yellow, oblanceolate (obovate), sometimes emarginate, 1 to 2 cm long, 2.5 to 10 mm broad, showy. Head of achenes subglobose to cylindric, 7 to 14 mm long, 7 to 10 mm in diameter. Achenes 35 to 130, elliptic-oblong to obovate, 2.5 to 4 mm long, smooth, glabrous, the margin keeled; beak slender, straight, 3 to 5 mm long. Receptacle cylindric, 2 to 3 mm long in flower, 5 to 12 mm long in fruit, pubescent, often sparsely so. Wet soils--swamps, drainages, wet woods, creeks, mud flats around pools, and seepage slopes. Cen., S., and W. TX; W. to AZ, also Mex. Mar.-June.

5. R. sceleratus L. Cursed Buttercup, Blister Buttercup, Celery-leaved Butter-cup. Annual or short-lived perennial. Plants of marshes or fully aquatic. Stems erect, hollow, stout and inflated at base, to 2 cm broad, to 1 m tall, rarely rooting from lower nodes, freely-branched, usually glabrous below and pubescent above on the branches. Leaves cauline and basal, the lowermost often absent at anthesis. Basal leaves with long petioles to a maximum of 25 cm long, simple, reniform in overall outline, to 6(10) cm long and 10(13) cm broad, deeply 3-lobed or parted, the divisions lobed, parted, or divided, apices of ultimate divisions rounded, sinuses rounded, leaf bases cordate to truncate or widely cuneate, stipular leaf bases 5 to 10 mm long. Cauline leaves alternate, becoming more sessile and smaller upwards, pedately divided; bracteal leaves entire, lanceolate to oblanceolate or linear. Inflorescence often well-branched, pedicels to 1(2) cm long in flower and 3 cm in fruit. Sepals 5, green-yellow, spreading, ovate, 2 to 3 mm long, 1.5 to 2 mm broad, pilose externally or glabrous, quickly deciduous but remaining longer than the petals. Petals 5, yellow, obovate to oblong, generally 2 to 5 mm long, 1 to 3 mm broad. Nectary scale glabrous, with the margins prolonged along the blade of the petal, sometimes 1 or both margins with a free flap at the tip or the scale surrounding the nectary. Stamens 10 to 25. Head of achenes cylindrical, 3 to 10(15) mm long, 2 to 6(10) mm broad. Achenes 40 to 300, somewhat asymmetrical or wedge-shape to obovoid, 0.8 to 1 mm long, often with minute, irregular transverse ridges on the faces; margins and base corky- thickened at least somewhat, their surfaces with ridges or a circle of minute punctations at the inner margin of the thickened edge; achenes glabrous, keel obscure, style and achene beak practically lacking, not recurved. Receptacle obovoid or cylindric, 1 to 2 mm long in flower, 2. 5 to 9 mm long in fruit, pubescent or sometimes glabrous. Margins of lakes, streams, and marshes. S. and SE. TX; Nfld. to Albta., S. to FL and TX; native to Europe and widely naturalized.

The sap of this species is said to cause blisters on human skin.

6. R. fascicularis Muhl. ex Bigel. Prairie Buttercup, Early Buttercup. Perennial from a fascicle of both short, tuberous roots to 5 mm in diameter and filiform, cordlike roots. Flowering stems several from the base, 1 to 3 dm tall, weak, erect to suberect, not rooting at the nodes, often scapose, not hollow, with silky-canescent appressed or ascending hairs; herbage appressed-pubescent. Basal leaves several to many, petioles to 10 cm long; blades ternate, compound, or at least 3-parted, ovate-oblong in overall outline, 2.5 to 5.5 cm long, 2 to 4 cm broad, definitely longer than broad; divisions 3 or 5, the lateral ones sessile to short-petiolulate, the terminal petiolule 1 to 2 cm long; divisions oblanceolate to narrowly elliptic, simple and rounded or few toothed apically to 3-(to 7-) lobed and/or angularly toothed, leaves sometimes appearing bipinnate, ultimate divisions blunt or rounded; stipular leaf bases 15 to 35 mm long. Cauline leaves usually 1 or 2, alternate, reduced, with 1 to 3 segments; bracteal leaves much-reduced, commonly undivided, linear to lanceolate. Pedicels 1.5 to 6 cm long in flower, elongating to 2.5 to 9 cm or more in fruit. Sepals 5, green-yellow, ovate-attenuate, spreading, 6 to 8 mm long, 2 to 3 mm broad, usually somewhat silvery-pubescent, promptly deciduous. Petals 5 (always so in our region, elsewhere to 9), yellow, obovate-oblanceolate or obovate-orbicular, 6 to 15 mm long, 3 to 6 mm broad, rounded apically. Nectary scale truncate, glabrous, free nearly its entire length. Stamens commonly 40 to 50. Head of achenes subglobose, 4.5 to 8(11) mm long, 6 to 12 mm in diameter. Achenes 10 to 35 per head, obovate- orbicular, with a short, flat stalk, main body 1.5 to 3 mm long, glabrous, the margin keeled but not usually prominent, the faces somewhat convex, smooth, dull; style beak subulate, straight to curved, 2 to 2.3 mm long (if unbroken), filiform and stigmatic apically. Receptacle fusiform to obovoid, 1.5 to 2.5 mm long in flower, 3 to 7 mm long in fruit, lightly hispidulous. Sandy soils in shallow water, low pinewoods, meadows, seepage slopes, and prairies. NE. TX S. and W. to SW. TX plains; MA to MN, S. to GA, AL, LA, and TX. Feb.-May. [includes var. cuneiformis (Small) L. Benson and var. apricus (Greene) Fern. (R. apricus Greene)].

7. R. sardous Crantz. Terrestrial annual from filiform roots. Stems not rooting at the nodes, sub-erect, simple or branched from the base, not hollow, sparsely to densely spreading-hirsute, 1 to 5 dm tall. Basal leaves sometimes withered or absent at anthesis, petioles 3 to 16 cm long; blades ternate, broadly cordate to ovate in overall outline, 2 to 3(4) cm long and 2 to 4 cm broad, lateral leaflets sessile to very short-petiolate, terminal leaflet stalked; leaflets shallowly to deeply parted or lobed, to ca. 2 cm long, deltoid to ovate in outline, cordate to truncate basally, rounded apically, appressed-pubescent; stipular leaf bases 1 to 1.5 cm long. Cauline leaves alternate, often with larger blades than the basal leaves, shorter-petioled to sessile, ternate to 3-lobed, reduced upwards to sessile bracteal leaves with 3 linear divisions. Pedicels 3 to 5 cm long in flower, 2 to 6(8) cm long in fruit, sparsely appressed-pubescent. Sepals 5, yellow-green, ovate-attenuate, 3 to 5 mm long, 1.5 to 2 mm broad, reflexed, often early-deciduous, pilose to sparsely hispid externally. Petals 5, yellow, 8 to 9 mm long, 5 to 7 mm wide, obovate; nectary scale truncate to ob-ovate, lateral margins free ca. 3/4 their length. Stamens 25 to 50. Head of achenes subglobose to globose or ovoid, 4 to 8 mm long, 5 to 7 mm broad. Achenes 10 to 40 per head, nearly circular, 2 to 3 mm long, body flat, margin prominent, faces smooth to papillate, glabrous, style stigmatic along one side, beak deltoid, flattened, 0.2 to 0.5 mm long, blunt, sometimes curved at the tip. Receptacle pyriform, ca. 1 mm long in flower and 2 mm long in fruit, with long white hairs. Moist grassy slopes, low wet areas, marshes. Sporadic in the E. 1/3 TX; native of Eur. and naturalized in the U.S., especially on the Atlantic Coast. Apr.-June.

Many of our plants were erroneously identified as R. fascicularis because R. sardous was omitted from keys to the local flora or described with only papillate achenes. It is much more common in our area than previously thought, and our plants represent a westward range limit not described in many books.

7. THALICTRUM L. Meadow-rue (back to key to Genera)

Herbaceous perennials, sometimes rhizomatous, stems hollow. Leaves alternate, the lowest long-petiolate, the petiole bases often expanded; blades ternate or 2 or 3 times compound, the leaflets usually cleft or shallowly lobed, commonly petiolulate, paler beneath; cauline leaves similar but progressively simpler, uppermost leaves often short-petiolate to sessile, sometimes all the leaves so. Plants dioecious or polygamo-dioecious, flowers usually many, pedicellate, in panicles (umbels), not individually very showy, usually uni-sexual, small. Sepals 4 or 5, greenish to purple or whitish, caducous; corolla absent. Stamens many, exserted, yellow to purplish, the filaments filiform to slenderly clavate, often tangled; anthers slender, apiculate. Carpels about 4 to 17 (at least in ours), free, styles short to lacking, stigmas unilateral, persistent on the 1-seeded achenes; achene bodies usually longitudinally ribbed.

About 85 species, chiefly of the N. temperate regions, tropical S. Amer., and S. Afr.; 4 in TX; 2 in the Navasota flora. Stephen J. Wolf (CSUBIOWEB) has nice photos of Thalictrum venulosum from Oregon, both staminate and pistillate plants. As is the case with many taxa of the Ranunculaceae, most Thalictrum species contain alkaloids; a few a used in herbal medicines; some are grown as ornamentals. One, T. texanum, of ours is a rare endemic.

Key to Species:



1. T. dasycarpum Fisch. & All. var. hypoglaucum (Rydb.) Boivin Purple Meadow-rue. Plants polygamo-dioecious, from a stout, erect rootstock. Stems glabrous, 5 to 14(20) dm tall, often purple. Lowest leaves petiolate, middle and upper short-petiolate to subsessile; stipules suborbicular, brown. Leaflets firm, obovate in overall outline, the longest 1.5 to 4(5.5) cm long and ca. 4 cm broad, entire to acutely 3-lobed, occasionally with a few extra lobes or teeth, veins prominent beneath; undersurfaces pale, glaucous, or with a few minute hairs, margins sometimes revolute. Inflorescence corymbose-paniculate, open. Sepals 4 to 5, lanceolate to narrowly ovate, acuminate, 2 to 5 mm long, purplish to whitish, commonly caducous. Filaments 4 to 7 mm long, soon drooping and becoming tangled, anthers mostly 1.3 to 3.2 mm long, oblong to linear, the subulate tip 0.1 to 0.2 mm long. Carpels 5 to 14, stigmas 2.5 to 5 mm long, about as long as the ovoid to lanceolate body. Fruits (2.5)3.8 to 5.5 mm long, dark, ribbed. Meadows, swamps, and moist woods, especially along slopes and streams. E. 1/3 TX and N. panhandle; Ont. W. to Albta., S. to OH, LA, TX, NM, and AZ. Mar.-July. [T. hypoglaucum Rydb.; sometimes varieties of this species not recognized.].

2. T. debile Buckl. var. texanum A. Gray Houston Meadow-rue. Plant from a somewhat swollen, irregular rootstock which often becomes black on drying. Stems stiff, erect, to 45 cm tall. Foliage delicate, lower leaves petiolate, upper leaves short-petiolate to sessile. Main leaves ternate to 3 times ternate; leaflets to about 8 mm long and 10 mm broad, obovate, entire to crenate, notched, or with 3 rounded lobes, veins visible below, lower leaf surface paler than the upper, somewhat glaucous. Stipules less than 1 to 2 mm long. Inflorescence dense to more compact. Sepals of male flowers 1.7 to 3 mm long, in the female flowers 0.7 to 1.5 mm long. Filaments ca. 1.5 mm long, becoming somewhat tangled, anthers 1.4 to 2 mm long. Stigmas 0.5 to 1 mm long. Mature fruits ovoid or ovoid-fusiform, sometimes curved, apically acute, 2.7 to 3.7 mm long and ca. 1.4 to 2 mm broad, with a stipe 0.1 to 0.3 mm long, 6- to 8-ribbed. SE TX; endemic. Mar.-May. [T. texanum (Gray) Small].

While this plant is not officially listed as endangered, it is under study to determine if it should be listed as threatened or endangered. It is certainly rare, and difficult to find even if being deliberately sought.

8. ANEMONE L. Anemone, Windflower (back to key to Genera)

Perennial herbs from tubers or slender to thickened rhizomes. Stems erect. Leaves divided or nearly compound, all basal except for several, sessile to petiolate, borne in a whorl on the stem as an involucre below the peduncle. Basal leaves sometimes absent; if present, long-petiolate. Flowers solitary (as in ours) or in cymes or umbels, peduncles of all but the central flower sometimes with secondary involucres. Sepals petaloid, 4 to 20, usually showy, white, red, yellow, blue, or purple. Corolla absent or petals present as gland-like staminodia. Stamens and pistils many in a cylindrical or spherical cluster. Fruiting structure and elongate or compound head of achenes, these flattened, pubescent or glabrous, with short or elongate style beaks.

About 120 species nearly worldwide, especially in the N. temperate zone;

4 species are found in TX and 2 in the Navasota flora. [Pulsatilla Adans. formerly included.].

Many species, some with "double" flowers, are grown for ornament and have the sepals brightly colored or marked.

Key to Species:



1. A. caroliniana Walt. Carolina Anemone. Plants from a small tuber 6 to 15 mm in diameter with rhizomes and stolons, 5 to 30 cm tall. Stems/scapes glabrous below the involucre, villous to appressed-pubescent above. Leaves once or twice 3-parted or 3- cleft, at least some of the leaves with the ultimate divisions more or less linear and with acute tips, the largest blades overall 2 to 5 cm broad, longest petioles 2 to 6(10) cm long. Involucre below the middle of the scape at anthesis, bracteal leaves sessile, whorled, smaller than but similar to the basal leaves, 1 to 3 cm long, dissected, the ultimate divisions linear-acute. Flowers solitary, 1.5 to 4 cm across. Sepals 10 to 20(27), white to rosy or lavender to violet, often whitish above and colored below, linear-oblong, 1 to 2.7 cm long. Fruiting head ellipsoid (sometimes cylindrical), (8)13 to 19(22) mm long and 7 to 10 mm wide. Achenes nearly concealed by the pubescence of the head, ovate, plump, 1.5 to 2(2.5) mm long, styles 1.3 to 2 mm long, about equalling the achene body, with the slender tip often projecting beyond the woolly pubescence. Generally in sandy soils. E. 1/4 TX; FL to TX, N to SD, MN, WI, IN. Feb.-Apr.

2. A. berlandieri Pritzel Tenpetal Anemone. Plants from a thick, clavate-to-oblong rootstock, not rhizomatous, 1 to 3(4.5) dm tall. Stems loosely villous below the involucre, becoming appressed-villous above. Basal leaves long-petioled, longest 5 to 16 cm long; blades variable in size and shape on a given individual, the largest 3 to 5.5 cm long, usually ternate, leaflets petiolulate to sessile, broad, ovate to oblong or obovate, the margins crenate-dentate or cleft, generally thinly appressed-pubescent or ciliate-hirsute. Leaves of involucre borne above the middle of the scape at anthesis, dissimilar to the basal leaves, generally 3, subsessile, 1.8 to 4.5(6) cm long, once (or rarely twice) palmately cleft, the ultimate segments linear, generally entire, acute. Flowers solitary, ca. 2 to 4.3 cm broad. Sepals 10 to 22(33), mostly white above and purplish to blue-violet below, 11 to 21 mm long. Head of achenes cylindric, (11)20 to 40 mm long, 5.5 to 11 broad, achenes nearly obscured by the pubescence of the head, orbicular, 2.7 to 2.5 mm long, flattened, style slender, ca. 1/3 the length of the achene body, eventually inflexed and not projecting beyond the woolly pubescence. Sandy clay or calcareous clay soils, throughout much of TX; NC to VA, SW. to KS, OK, TX, AR, AL, MS. Feb.-Apr. [A. decapetala Ard. var. heterophylla (Nutt.) Britt, A. heterophylla Nutt. The latter, though widely used, has been determined to be an invalid name.].



Last updated by HDW on 15 March 1995