Ranunculus meristus

Rough-fruited Buttercup

Family: Ranunculaceae

Ranunculus meristus, the Rough-fruited Buttercup or Spinyfruit Buttercup, is a perennial herb, to about 50 cm tall with a small spread.

It has a large natural geopgraphic distirbution in NSW, growing mainly on the tablelands and western slopes, as far south as locations such as Batemans Bay, Bredbo and Cootamundra, northwards to the Queensland border, as far west as the Macquarie Marshes. It has an interesting patchy distribution in Queensland, growing in the south-east hinterland from the border to around Chinchilla; then found around Springsure and Carnarvon National Park; then found south-west of Townsville towards Cairns.

It is commonly found on dark muddy soils in intermittently wet sites such as swamps and creeklines and associated floodplains.

Ranunculus spp. have leaves either simple or compound (at least usually strongly divided) and often arranged in a basal rosette. In this species, leaves are probably best described as compound, with a rounded outline to 4 cm in diameter, strongly divided into numerous segments, with segments divided again towards the terminals, resutling in linear to narrow-oblong sections or parts about 2 mm wide, on a petiole to 20 cm long (in a similar fashion to the leaves of something like Isopogon anemonifolius); mid to dark green in colour and generally soft to the touch.

Ranunculus spp. produce solitary flowers or in cymes – with usually 5 sepals; petals can be 5 or more – yellow to white in colour with many stamens and carpels (bisexual). In this species, flowers are solitary, shiny yellow, to 2.5 centimetres across with 7-11 petals and held above the foliage on 50 centimetre stalks; produced from spring to summer. Seasonal rainfall triggers profuse floral displays.

The fruit is a head of achenes, each with a prominent beak. In this species, the heads consist of up to 90 achenes, each to 2 mm long.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

Cultivation details about this species are scant. It is more often observed in the wild in mass displays. Check with native nurseries for availability.

In our cold climate garden, on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, we have a drain that feeds water into a dam. In spring and summer, particularly after good rain, this area is a carpet of a conspicuous profusion of Ranunculus meristus flowers in company with Wurmbea dioica.

Best planted in a moist location with poor drainage, in full sun to some shade. A good plant for aquatic gardens and ponds/dams.


Propagate by division.

Other information

This species may be exposed to fire in some cases and can likely regenerate from the seedbank.

Ranunculus is a large genus of about 500 species – mainly found in the temperate regions of the world. Australia has around 50 species with around 10 exotic – found in all States and Territories. NSW currently has 32 species.

Ranunculus – Latin reportedly meaning “Little Frog” (rana = frog and unculus = “small version of”) – possibly referring to the common habitat of these species.

meristus – from Greek – meristos (μερίστος) – meaning divided or divisible – referring to the finely divided laminas of the leaves.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Ranunculus meristus profile page    https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Ranunculus~meristus 

Toowwomba Plants – Ranunculus meristus profile page https://toowoombaplants2008.blogspot.com/2010/10/cut-leaf-buttercup.html

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke