WSU Extension


Weeds : Buttercup, creeping : Ranunculus repens
(revision date: 4/7/2021)

Family: Ranunculaceae
Cycle: Perennial
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Creeping buttercup is a creeping perennial plant that is usually fairly low-growing. The stems are hairy and root at the nodes when they contact the soil. Leaves are also hairy, with long petioles. The leaf blade is divided or deeply lobed into three broadly toothed segments. Leaves are typically dark green but may have lighter spots. Flowers are borne on erect stems above the foliage. The flowers have five (sometimes up to ten) glossy yellow petals and a cluster of yellow stamens in the center. Flowers reach up to an inch in diameter. Seeds are borne in dense, bur-like clusters at the ends of stems. Each seed is about 1/8 inch long and has a short, backward-curving beak. Tall buttercup (R. acris) is similar to creeping buttercup, but often reaches heights of 3 feet. The lower leaves are divided into 3 to 5 deeply cut segments, while upper leaves are reduced to narrow straplike segments. Tall buttercup normally does not root at the nodes. SPECIAL INFORMATION: The sap of creeping buttercup can irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Buttercups are toxic to livestock.
Creeping buttercup is commonly found in moist areas such as meadows and along ditch banks, but it can also become a problem in lawns. It can become aggressive in pastures.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Maintaining a healthy planting or turf area to provide competition will prevent weed establishment.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label directions. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! Multiple applications are necessary for control, which may be only marginal. NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
  • products containing 2,4-D
Turf areas
  • products containing 2,4-D
  • products containing MCPA
  • 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba
Bare ground areas
  • glyphosate
  • products containing 2,4-D
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Caption: Creeping buttercup flowers
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Creeping buttercup
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Creeping buttercup flowers and fruits
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Creeping buttercup leaves
Photo by: T.W. Miller