Ranunculus parviflorus

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaRanunculaceaeRanunculusRanunculus parviflorus


An annual of dry disturbed habitats on a range of neutral and calcareous soils. Typical sites include broken turf on cliff edges, open, droughted slopes and banks, rabbit scrapes, tracks, poached gateways, building sites and gardens. The seeds appear to be long-lived, and populations may reappear after disturbance or persist for many years. Lowland.



World Distribution

Suboceanic Southern-temperate element.

Broad Habitats

Neutral grassland (includes coarse Arrhenatherum grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.3

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16

Annual Precipitation (mm): 834

Height (cm): 40

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 497

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 11

Atlas Change Index: -0.08

Weighted Changed Factor: 69

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Ranunculus parviflorus L.

Small-flowered buttercup

Status: not scarce


One of the few annual buttercups found in Britain, R. parviflorus is a plant of dry open ground, growing in a variety of temporary habitats such as rabbit scrapes, track sides, flower beds, gravel paths, broken turf on cliff edges and building sites. Low competition and some disturbance seem necessary. Associated species are usually commoner annual weeds such as Cardamine hirsuta, Cerastium glomeratum, Fumaria spp., Veronica arvensis and V. polita.

Strongly opportunist, this species adapts easily to available water and nutrients. Plants can vary from tiny rosettes with a single flower which fruit quickly and dry up, to many-branched individuals up to 30 cm across which may continue flowering from April to Christmas in a damp mild year. Seed is set freely, and winter germination produces cohorts of juveniles which compete for adult space. It appears to have a seedbank as the species may appear irregularly but persistently in an area for decades.

Like many of the more continental annual weeds, R. parviflorus has declined from intensive farming, the use of herbicides, and the general ‘tidying’ of the countryside and settlements. 

R. parviflorus is a Mediterranean and western European species, which extends northwards to Britain and Ireland (Jalas & Suominen 1989).


R. FitzGerald

Atlas text references

Atlas (21b)
de Bolòs O, Vigo J
1984.  Flora dels Països Catalans, I. Introducció. Licopodiàcies-Capparàcies.
Jalas & Suominen (1989)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.