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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 inamoenus variety inamoenus (Graceful Buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Cross Mountain Trail, June 13, 2006.

"Inamoenus" is Latin for "not pleasant," "not attractive", "drab".  Why Edward Greene, who named the plant in 1896, thought "inamoenus" an appropriate name for this common and dainty plant, no one seems to know.  

See R. eschscholtzii for a comparison of the characteristics of these two similar Ranunculus species.  The main characteristics that separate the fully grown plants are their height (R. inamoenus is often taller); the size of their flowers (R. inamoenus usually somewhat smaller flowers); and the clefts in their round basal leaves (R. inamoenus has shallowly lobed basal leaves and R. eschscholtzii usually has more deeply cut basal leaves).

Ranunculus inamoenus
Ranunculus inamoenus variety inamoenus (Graceful Buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Colorado Trail above Roaring Fork, June 29, 2006.

Ranunculus inamoenus
Ranunculus inamoenus variety inamoenus (Graceful Buttercup)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Colorado Trail above Roaring Fork, June 29, 2006.

The tiny yellow flowers ripen into exotic seed pods.  The petals of R. inamoenus are about half the width of the petals of R. eschscholtzii and do not overlap each other.

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 inamoenus