Ranunculus fascicularis Muhl. - Early Buttercup, Prairie Buttercup
Family - Ranunculaceae
Stems - Absent. Leaves and flowering stalks all basal. Roots somewhat thickened, short, fleshy.
Leaves - Leaves of the basal rosette long petiolate. Petioles to 15cm long, purplish, with a thin adaxial groove, sericeous, expanded and sheathing at the base. Lateral divisions of the leaves on petiolules to 1cm long. Petiolule of terminal division to +2cm long. All petiolules sericeous as the petiole. Blades ovate in outline. Ultimate divisions of the blades green, oblong to linear-oblong, mostly entire or with one or two teeth, sericeous, 4-9mm broad. Cauline leaves few if any, linear, undivided or 3-parted with linear divisions, sessile to short petiolate.
Inflorescence - Single flowers terminating the long peduncles or sometimes the stalks branching. Peduncles sericeous, purplish, angled, to 18-20cm long, erect.
Hairs of the peduncle.
Flowers - Petals 5, yellow, +/-2cm long, 7-10mm broad, shiny above, pale below, entire, rounded at the apex, oblong, distinct, often with a small appendage dorsally at the base. Stamens many, from below the carpels, ascending. Filaments yellowish, glabrous, thin at the base, expanded towards the apex. Anthers yellow, curved to straight, 2-3mm long, -1mm broad, longitudinally dehiscent. Carpels many, with long beaks, to 4mm long (total) in flower, glabrous. Receptacle pubescent at least at the apex. Sepals 5, spreading, sericeous externally, glabrous internally, whitish-yellow, lanceolate, entire, acute, often with a reddish midrib, to 1cm long, 3-5mm broad. Achenes compressed, glabrous, the main body rounded, 2-3mm in diameter. Beak of achenes 2-3mm long, yellow.
Flowering - March - May.
Habitat - Dry and open upland woods, glades, prairies, dry roadsides with acidic soil.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - This species can be found mainly in the southern half of Missouri but it is also common in the northeastern corner of the state. This species can be identified in the field by its sericeous stems and leaves, its divided leaves, its beaked achenes, and its big yellow flowers. Large groups of plants can be seen along dry clay roadside cuts in the late spring.
Photographs taken off 4-5-04.