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    Because of the shape of Ranunculus flowers, bees do not pollinate them very well, but the bees do leave an abundance of pollen on the glossy petals.  Dew and rain slide off the slick, shiny surface carrying the pollen to the stigmas below to fertilize them. How very interesting the ways of plants are!  

    The species of Ranunculus that grow in the Four Corners area are a bit difficult to tell apart; look first at the leaf shape and the height of the plant.  Flower size, color, and shape are very similar and are difficult to use in distinguishing among species.

    "Ranunculaceae" is an ancient name, probably derived from the Latin "rana", meaning "frog" or "tadpole"; frogs and some Ranunculaceae prefer the same moist habitat.  But the name might refer to some long forgotten perceived relationship in size, shape, and smell between flower and frog. "Culus" is Latin for "little". Linnaeus named this genus in 1753.

Ranunculus eschscholtzii

Ranunculus eschscholtzii

Ranunculus eschscholtzii

Ranunculus eschscholtzii

Ranunculus eschscholtzii (Eschscholtz's Buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Above and second and third at left: Pass Creek Trail, July 13, 2016 and June 11, 2010.
Top left: Upper Calico Trail, June 13, 2004.

Ranunculus eschscholtzii and Ranunculus inamoenus at first glance appear to be quite similar, but a close look at several characteristics will help to separate them:

Flowers and petals of R. eschscholtzii are generally broader than those of R. inamoenus:

R. eschscholtzii's petals usually overlap each other; the petals of R. inamoenus have gaps between them. 

R. eschscholtzii flowers usually have 5-8 petals; R. inamoenus flowers usually have 5 petals.  

Some botanical keys indicate that the styles of R. eschscholtzii are straight and those of R. inamoenus are hooked, but other keys disagree saying that both may be hooked or straight.

Two more of the better characteristics that separate the two species are the leaf shape and the altitude the plants are found at:

R. eschscholtzii typically has deeply incised basal leaves;  R. inamoenus has shallow lobes on its basal leaves. 

Both plants occur in the upper montane and lower subalpine but only R. eschscholtzii commonly grows higher than this and only R. inamoenus commonly grows lower than this.

R. eschscholtzii is usually about 5 inches tall but can be from 2-9 inches tall; R. inamoenus is usually about eight inches tall but can be from 2-16 inches tall.  Both Buttercups grow in small scattered patches or can grow more densely in wet areas.

Diederich Schlechtendal named R. eschscholtzii in 1820.  Dr. Johann Friedrich Gustav von Eschscholtz (1793-1831) was a German Surgeon and explorer who accompanied Kotzebue on his 1815-1818 and 1823-1826 expeditions around the world.  (More biographical information about Eschscholtz.)

              

Ranunculus eschscholtzii (Eschscholtz's Buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Upper Calico Trail, June 13, 2004.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Ranunculus eschscholtzii