Invasive Species -


Fig Buttercup/Lesser Celandine
(Ranunculus ficaria L.)

Photos & Description courtesy of IPANE

Where it's from

Northern Europe


What Fig Buttercup, Lesser Celandine and pilewort do to the habitat

Since the tubers send up shoots that become leaves in late winter, many native plants that flower and fruit in the spring are crowded out of light and space.


The plant can take over acres of the forest floor and the native species which normally use early spring light (before shrubs and trees leaf out) to emerge and grow are shadowed out of existence.



You can dig out a small colony or individual plants with a trowel. But be sure to get all the tubers, for that’s how it grows.


If you spray glyphosate (Round Up) should be administered late winter or early spring, when other plants are dormant. Don’t do it later in the spring as many amphibians that live near the plant will be harmed.


Common Name

Full Scientific Name

Fig buttercup
Lesser celandine
Ranunculus ficaria L.

Family Name Common

Family Scientific Name

Buttercup family Ranunculus ficaria



Botanical Glossary

Ranunculus ficaria is an herbaceous perennial that behaves as a ground cover. This plant measures 10-30 cm (4-12 in.) long. It is a spring ephemeral that grows from a cluster of tuberous roots in late winter or early spring. The glossy, dark green (sometimes slightly mottled), fleshy leaves are on long petioles, and are cordate to oblong-cordate in shape. The margins can be entire or wavy. The lower leaves are usually opposite in their arrangement. The leaves measure 1.8-3.7 cm (0.7-1.5 in.) long and 2-4 cm (0.75-1.5 in.) wide. The above ground portion of this plant dies back sometime in June. The glossy flowers of this plant are bright yellow and have 8-12 narrowly obovate petals. The flowers measure 1-2 cm (0.4-0.75 in.) across and appear in late April to early May. The head of the achenes is globose in shape and measures about 7 mm (0.28 in.) across. The achenes are pubescent and without a beak. Ranunculus ficaria also produces below ground, spheric or ellipsoid bulbils which aid in its dispersal. Page References Fernald 648, Gleason & Cronquist 59, Holmgren 58, Magee & Ahles 510, Newcomb 364, Peterson & McKenny 130.

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