Ranunculus repens - L.
Creeping Buttercup
Other Common Names: creeping buttercup
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ranunculus repens L. (TSN 18642)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.136133
Element Code: PDRAN0L2B0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Buttercup Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Ranunculales Ranunculaceae Ranunculus
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ranunculus repens
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (14Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNR), Hawaii (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AKexotic, ARexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DC, DEexotic, HIexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KYexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, LBexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Medium
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Ranunculus repens, creeping buttercup, is an herbaceous species has invaded most states in the United States; however, it appears to be problematic in the West, and particularly in Oregon. It doesn't appear that this species is a great threat to biodiversity in the East at this time. In the West this species has invaded several native species habitat and conservation areas. It is has invaded the habitat where the federally listed Spiranthes diluvialis, a rare orchid, occurs in Idaho (and other western states). This exotic species is spreading in the West and namely in Oregon. It seems to most readily invade areas that are disturbed, including native species habitats that receive natural disturbance. It is reported that R. repens has invaded forests, grassland, riparian habitats, and freshwater wetlands. This buttercup species produces runners which allow it to spread rapidly in some areas. Overall, this species is widespread in the United States and currently only a great problem in the West.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Unknown
I-Rank Review Date: 15Apr2004
Evaluator: Oliver, L.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Ranunculus repens is native to Africa, Asia, and Europe (GRIN).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
Provide feedback on the information presented in this assessment

Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This buttercup species, occurs nearly throughout the United States. It hasn't invaded a few states in the midwest, Alabama and Florida in the south, and New Mexico and Arizona in the southwest, but occurs in all other states (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Ranunculus repens, Creeping Buttercup, is known from a number of native species habitats and conservation areas. This species has invaded natural habitats in Oregon (NPSO 2002), Idaho (Murphy 2000), California (California Coastal Commission 2003), Utah (Welsh et al. 1993), and Virginia (Weakley 2000). This species has invaded forests, grasslands, riparian habitats and freshwater wetlands (Weber 2003).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Moderate significance
Comments: Ranunculus repens, Creeping buttercup, can greatly affect ecosystem processes. This member of the Ranunculaceae, usually invades wet areas and forms monocultures which can replace native vegetation (Weber 2003). It has also been reported as alleolopathic (NPSO 2002). In California, this species is reported from the Campbell Creek/Gannon Slough in the city of Arcata. It persists there with other non-indigenous, invasive plant species which are reported to have severly degraded this coastal stream system, as very few fish and other animal species were found during a survey (California Coastal Commission 2003). In Washington, this species has invaded Mercer Slough in Bellevue along with other invasive, non-native plant species, and these plant species are reported to out compete native species for ground and sunlight (Riewe 2001).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance
Comments: This species is an herbaceous plant (Welsh et al. 1993), so it can only alter one vegetative layer.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: This buttercup species can form monocultures (NPSO 2002) or dense swards (Weber 2003).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: The Creeping buttercup directly impacts the federally listed Spiranthes diluvialis, Ute ladies tresses in Idaho. S. diluvialis, is a rare orchid species, that is distributed in a number of states in the west. In Idaho, R. repens inhabits two sites where this orchid grows and is described as a 'significant component' of those sites (Murphy 2000). Information on R. repens in the orchid's habitat was only found for Idaho.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: As previously mentioned this species affects the federally listed Spiranthes diluvialis (Murphy 2000), but is also reported from wetlands (Weber 2003, Picart 1998) and other habitats (Weber 2003), but it isn't clear whether these habitats are of a high quality.

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: This species is found in nearly all states in the United States, except for a few states in the midwest, west and the deep south (Kartesz 1999).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Moderate significance
Comments: Ranunculus repens, is apparently having negative effects in the western states where it occurs. The Native Plant Society of Oregon, report that in the Southern Willamette Valley this species is having a high impact on native plant communities there (2002). In California, this species has been reported with other non-native, invasive plant species in a stream community where it has severly degraded a streambank habitat (California Coastal Commission 2003) and is documented in at least one wetland in Humboldt Co., California (Picart 1998). In other parts of its non-native range, this species is reported as uncommon (Weakley 2000) or as occasionally escaped from cultivation (Rhoads and Block 2000).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Moderate significance
Comments: This exotic species is known from nearly every state in the US, with the exception of a few states in the midwest, south and west (Kartesz 1999). It has apparently spread into many ecoregions (TNC 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Ranunculus repens, creeping Buttercup, has invaded forests, grassland, riparian habitats, and freshwater wetlands (Weber 2003).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Creeping Buttercup, has the ability to spread rapidly, and Weber 2003 says "the plant spreads rapidly where competition is low and forms dense swards that eliminate native vegetation". It is spreading in some states in the west, and namely Oregon. It is reported to form monocultures in the Southern Willamette Valley (NPSO 2002). In Washington at one site, this species is reported to spread itself along disturbed areas (Riewe 2001). This species does not seems to be spreading at the same rate in the northeast as several floras report that this species is either uncommon (Weakley 2000) or occasional (Rhoads and Block 2000) and in Michigan, Voss 1985 reports it as uncommon.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Insignificant
Comments: This species has invaded almost every state in the United States (Kartesz 1999), so it already occupies most of the region.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Seeds of Ranunculus repens disperse by wind, by birds and other animals, and by humans (Cavers 1995). While no direct information about long distance dispersal by water was found, this species probably does spread via water currents as one of its main habitats is freshwater wetlands.

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: It is spreading in some states in the west, and namely Oregon. It is reported to form monocultures in the Southern Willamette Valley (NPSO 2002). In Washington at one site, this species is reported to spread itself along disturbed areas (Riewe 2001).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: This species does have a propensity to invade disturbed sites (California Coastal Commission 2003, Voss 1985, and Welsh et al. 1993). In Oregon, this species has been documented to invade native plant communities (NPSO 2002). In Idaho, this species occurs in the habitat where the rare orchid, Sprianthes diluvialis is found. These sites in Idaho are in a floodplain, so some natural disturbance to the land occurs (Murphy 2000).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Unknown

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Creeping Buttercup reproduces by seed and by producing runners. It is also reported to produce many seeds in each flower head (Agricultural Research Service 1970). Other sources indicate that this species produces few seeds per flower. Cavers 1995 in The Biology of Canadian Weeds says that each flower may produce 77 or fewer seeds. Furhter, this species produces stolons which grow adventitious roots; these stolons can cover a large area in a short time (Cavers 1995).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Unknown

17. General Management Difficulty:Unknown

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Unknown

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Unknown

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Unknown

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Agricultural Research Service. 1970. Common weeds of the United States. Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Washington, D.C. 463 pp.

  • California Coastal Commission. 2003. City of Arcata- Environmental Sevices Department Th14b. Filed May 10, 2003.

  • Cavers, P.B., ed. 1995. The Biology of Canadian Weeds. The Agricultural Institute of Canada, Ottawa.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Meades, S.J. & Hay, S.G; Brouillet, L. 2000. Annotated Checklist of Vascular Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial University Botanical Gardens, St John's NF. 237pp.

  • Murphy, C. 2000. Ute Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis) in Idaho. 2000 Status Report. Prepared for Upper Snake River District, Bureau of Land Management and Targhee National Forest. Idaho Deparment of Fish and Game, Natural Resource Policy Bureau. Boise, ID.

  • Native Plant Society of Oregon, Emerald Chapter. 2002. Invasive gardening and landscaping plants of Southern Willamette Valley. Available: http://www.emeraldnpso.org/PDFs/Invas_Orn.pdf. (Accessed 2004).

  • Picart, A. 1998. South Bay Wetlands Learning Center Restoration and Monitoring Plan, for South Bay Union School District. Online at: http://www.humboldt.k12.ca.us/sobay_sd/distict/wetlands_learning_center.htm. Accessed 4/7/2004.

  • Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block. 2000. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1061 pp.

  • Riewe, M. 2001. Invasive species management. Mercer Slough, Bellevue, WA. Online at: http://students.washingon.edu/rlhicks/index_MercerSlough1.html. Accessed 4/8/2004

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.URL: http://www.ars-grin.gov/var/apache/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?6438. (Accessed 2004)

  • Voss, E.G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicotyledons. Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1212 pp.

  • Weakley, A.S. 2000. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia: working draft of May 15, 2000. Unpublished draft, The Nature Conservancy, Southern Resource Office.

  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 548 pp.

  • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L.C. Higgins (eds.) 1993. A Utah flora. 2nd edition. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah. 986 pp.

Use Guidelines & Citation

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of November 2016.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2017 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.