Celery-leaved Buttercup
Ranunculus sceleratus L.
Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup
Genus: Ranunculus
Other names: blister buttercup
Nomenclature: sceleratus = like celery (leaves)
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Medicinal plant
Toxic plant

General: hairless to sparsely stiff-hairy annual with numerous slender, fleshy roots. Stems 1 to several, erect, 20-50 cm tall, usually freely branched, hollow.

Leaves: the basal with a stalk 2-4 times as long as the blades, the blade reniform in outline, mostly 2.5-4 cm long and deeply 3 (or apparently 5)-parted into more or less wedge-shaped, and again less deeply once- or twice-lobed or toothed. Stem leaves numerous, alternate, more deeply cleft or divided than the basal leaves.

Flowers: several on stalks rather stout, 1-3 cm long. Sepals 5, spreading, yellowish, 2-4.5 mm long, soon dropped. Petals 5, yellow, 2-5 mm long. Nectary scale 1 mm long, largely joined to the petal, the edges and base forming a slight pocket bordering and partially covering the exposed gland. Receptacle in fruit ellipsoid-cylindric, up to 14 mm long, usually slightly short-hairy. Stamens 15-20. May-September.

Fruits: achenes, 100-250 in a cylindrical cluster, obovate in outline, about 1 mm long, flattened, the central portion of the face smooth and set off from the edges by a distinct depression. Style pimple-like, about 0.1 mm long.


Moist meadows and boggy shoreland to semi-aquatic and often brackish areas, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also in most of N. America n. of Mexico, and in Eurasia.
Medicinal Uses

The celery-leafed buttercup is one of the most virulent of our native plants. The whole plant is acrid, mildly pain-relieving, antispasmodic, induces sweating, promotes or assists the flow of menstrual fluid and causes irritation to the skin. When bruised and applied to the skin it raises a blister and creates a sore that is by no means easy to heal. If chewed it inflames the tongue and produces violent effects. The herb should be used fresh since it loses its effects when dried. The leaves and the root has been used externally as an antirheumatic. The seed is tonic and is used in the treatment of colds, general debility, rheumatism and spermatorrhea.

Toxic Properties

All parts of buttercups are mildly poisonous when fresh, the toxins are destroyed by heat or by drying. The plant also has a strongly acrid juice that can cause blistering to the skin. Ingestion causes burning of the mouth, abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Skin redness, burning sensation, and blisters may follow contact with the sap. The toxic principle is protoanemonin, released from the glycoside ranunculin. However, larger quantities must be eaten for serious toxic effects to be experienced. The Thompson Indians rubbed flowers or whole plants of celery-leaved buttercup on arrow points as a poison.

Sub taxa:

Our specimen belong to var. multifidus Nutt.

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