Advanced Search Map Locator
View Settings
Nurseries Carrying this Plant Add Current Plant To List Edit Current Plant
Show all Photos

Butterflies My Plant Lists Nurseries Planting Guide Contact Calscape About Calscape
Tap map to see plants native to location
Order by Popularity Order by Common Name Order by Scientific Name Order by # of Butterflies Hosted
Show nursery cultivars Hide nursery cultivars
Show plants not in nurseries Hide plants not in nurseries
Grid view Text view
California Buttercup
Ranunculus californicus
About California Buttercup (Ranunculus californicus) Nurseries Show All Photos The California buttercup (Ranunculus californicus), a perennial herb of the Ranunculaceae family, brightens much of California (except the deserts) with 3/4 inch, remarkably glossy, deep yellow flowers, each with 9 to 17 petals. Their native habitat extends into Baja California, Oregon, and some Pacific coast islands. There are two recognized Varieties: Var californicus is widespread and the flowers rise above the basal leaves on 1 ft to 2ft branching stems. Var cuneatus is found primarily on the north-central coast and blooms from short stems, giving this variety the look of a low ground cover. By mid-summer the flowers have shed seed, and the plant is dormant. New seedlings readily volunteer in late winter to spring. Propagate easily by seed from seed companies and local exchanges. Nursery plants may occasionally be available.

For the garden, plant this buttercup in front of the border and in meadows with native annuals and bulbs, blue-eyed grass, shooting stars, woolly blue-curls, and other natives that require little, if any, supplemental summer irrigation. Buttercups are not only worthy cut flowers but also a good source of nutrition. Toast them in a frying pan briefly. Use in porridge or grind and add to baked goods. Don't miss this easy to grow and quite appealing native. Often riparian or semi-riparian in the drier parts of its range.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial Herb

Max. Height
0.6 - 2.3 ft (0.18 - 0.7 m)

Max. Width
6 in (15cm)


Growth Rate

Summer Deciduous

Low, basal, broadly oval leaves, generally divided into 3 segments. Less structured distal leaves provide a soft green backdrop for the tall, sturdy flowering stems and showy flowers.

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Many and varied wet and dry places from the coast ranges to foothill grasslands to meadows and woodlands below about 7,000 ft. Often found in open areas.

Part Shade, Sun

Elevation ?
-293' - 8087'

Annual Precip. ?
6.3" - 87.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.00"

Coldest Month ?
27.0° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
50.0° F - 84.0° F

Humidity ?
0.07 vpd - 34.82 vpd

Soil Description

Soil PH
5 - 8

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 10° F

Sunset Zones ?
2, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22, 23, 24

Companion Plants
Dodecatheon clevelandii (Shooting Star), Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue-eyed Grass), Trichostema lancolatum (wooly blue-curls)

Wildlife Attracted
A variety of insects are attracted to the flowers, especially native bees

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Cut plant to the ground as it goes dormant in summer.

Propagation ?
Allow seed pods to dry on the plant. In late winder/spring, the seeds will sprout nicely in situ. No special treatment is needed for seeds collected for propagation offsite.

Common uses
Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Common Buttercup

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

Sign in to your Calscape Account X

Once signed in, you'll be able to access any previously saved plant lists or create new ones.

Email Address

Sign In