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Pakistan | Family List | Ranunculaceae

21. Ranunculus L., Sp. Pl. 548. 1753. Gen. Pl. ed. 5:619. 1754, Boiss., Fl. Or. 1:20. 1867, Hook.f. & Thoms. in Hook.f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 1:16. 1872, Ovezinnikov in Komarov, Fl. URSS. 7: 351-509. 1937, Qureshi & Chaudhri in Pak. Syst. 4(1-2):140.1988.


Naturhistorisches Museum, Botanische Abteilung, Wien, Austria.


National Herbarium, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Ranunculus cantoniensis

Credit: S. Hameed

Annual or perennial plants with fibrous, partly fibrous, partly fleshy or more or less tuberiform roots. Leaves basal and cauline, entire in some species, more often palmatifid or palmatipartite, lobate or rarely pinnate. Flowers solitary or in a cymose inflorescence. Sepals usually 5, deciduous after flowering. Petals 5, rarely more or less, with a subbasal nectar-pit often protected by a scale. Stamens numerous, spirally arranged. Carpels arranged in globose to oblong heads, unilocular with one ovule. Fruitlets (achenes) nut-l ike, inflated or ± laterally compressed, usually with a distinct, straight or curved style (beak).

The number of species indicated varies greatly from author to author (about 600 according to Ovezinnikov in Fl. URSS., 400 in J.C. Willis. A Dictionary of the Flowering Plants & Ferns ed. 8, Cambridge. 1973). The genus has not been treated monographically after De Candolle's Prodromus (1824), so that it is very. difficult to get a general idea of its natural limits and its evolution in time and space. It is cosmopolitan from arctic tundras to subtropical deserts and tropical mountain ranges occurring in all kinds of different habitats, though very few species are adapted to arid conditions.

Many groups of species are taxonomically critical, and most of them have been treated only locally if at all, with nearly no attempts to correlate results from various countries. In Pakistan, especially Ranunculus hirtellus Royle and its relatives deserve much closer examination of rich herbarium as well as living material. It is difficult to delimit the species in this group as in the related European groups around Ranunculus auricomius L. and Ranunculus montanus Willd. The present account is provisional, but an attempt has been made by showing the underlying difficulties and by proposing possible solutions.

Many Ranunculus species are poisonous. Some species have been introduced as weeds in many parts of the world. Represented in Pakistan by 23-25 spp.

Species not seen

Ranunculus brotherusii Freyn. in Bull. Herb. Boiss. 6:885. 1878, Ovez. in Komarov, Fl. URSS 7:392. 1937, Stewart, Ann. Catalogue Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 270. 1972, Qureshi & Chaudhri, l.c. 165.

Ranunculus affnis auct. non L.: Hookf. & Thoms. in Hook.f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 1:18. 1872, Ranunculus pedatifdus Ledeb., Fl. Ross. 1:732. 1842 non L., Ranunculus caespatosus Wall. Catalogue no. 4701, non Thuill. 1800.

A perennial up to 25 cm tall with thin fibrous and thickened cylindrical roots. Flowers 8-18 mm broad, yellow. Leaf segments 1-2 mm broad, sessile or lateral segments pedately arranged.

Type: Turkestan, Kokbulak, at the springs of the river Noryn, V.F. Brotherus 818.

Distribution: Kashmir, Tien Shan.

Reportedly collected by T. Thomson from Nubra in Baltistan (fide Stewart, Ann. Catalogue Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 270. 1972). Said to be common between 3300-5200 m.

Ranunculus paucidentatus Schrenk in Bull. Phy. -Math. Acad. Petersb. 3:309. 1845, Over. in Komarov, Fl. URSS. 7:49. 1937, Stewart, Ann. Catalogue Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 272. 1972, Qureshi & Chaudhri, l.c. 159.

A species resembling Ranunculus aucheri, but differing mainly in the plant parts with spreading hairs, the leaves which are not lobed but 3-dentate at the apex. Flowers yellowish-green.

Type: Described from the Alatau mountains (LE).

Distribution: C. Asia,? Northern Pakistan.

R.R. Stewart (l.c.) mentions three gatherings from Chitral and Swat which I have not seen.

Ranunculus aucheri Boiss. in Ann. Sci. Nat. Ser. 2, 16: 351. 1841, R.R. Stewart, l.c. 269, Qureshi & Chaudhri, l.c. 159.

A species closely resembling Ranunculus afkhanicus but differing in the narrow leaf s egments and hairs that are appressed (not spreading).

Type: Iran: Isfahan, Aucher 4006 (G).

Distribution: W. Iran to N.W. Pakistan.

R.R. Stewart (l.c.) mentions two gatherings from Chitral, which I have not seen.

Ranunculus kohistanensis Qureshi & Chaudhri, Pak. Syst. 3(1):16.1987, 4 (1,2):172. 1988.

According to the authors the species is characterised by the few-flowered (1-2) inflorescence, glabrous receptacle, wrinkled pubescent achenes, oblong leaf segments and annual habit.

Type: Muzaffarabad: Gujar Nar, c. 3500 m, Shohzad Oat & A. Abbasi1941 (ISL).

Distribution: N. W. Pakistan, Kashmir.

The species is said to be related to Ranunculus hirtellus and Ranunculus brotherusii According to the authors (op.cit) it differs from the former in the glabrous receptacle, wrinkled achenes and 1-2-flowers per inflorescence. From the latter it differs by the annual habit, the leaf segments which are oblong and deciduous sepals.

Ranunculus waziristanicus Qureshi & Chaudhri in Pak. Syst. 4, (1-2) A58. 1988.

Ranunculus nanus sensu Blaster in J. And. Bet. Soc. 9:199. 1930: R.R. Stewart, Ann. Catalogue Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 274. 1972, non Fisch. ex DC. 1824, nec W. J. Hooker, 1834.

This species is characterised by its caespitose habit and rugose leaves which are scaly on both surfaces. I have not seen the type specimen (N. Waziristan: Razani, c. 1600 m, April 1927, Fernandez 2734, BLAT), to comment on the nature of affinity of the above species.

1 Plants annual, rarely biennial (in doubt cf. R. Cantoniensis)   (2)
+ Plants perennial   (5)
2 (1) Carpels compressed, often with tubercles and spines, 4-6 mm long   (3)
+ Carpels always smooth, compressed or not, 1-3 mm long   (4)
3 (2) Calyx reflexed. All the leaves entire or tripartite with broad, incised dentate segments   1 Ranunculus muricatus
+ Calyx not reflexed. Basal leaves entire or trifid, others with narrow, lanceolate to lanceolate-cuneate segments   2 Ranunculus arvensis
4 (2) Stout plants. Stems and petioles covered with rigid, patent hairs. Achenes 2-3 mm long, compressed   4 Ranunculus cantoniensis
+ Stems and petioles glabrous, turgid. Achenes very small, 1-1.3 mm long   3 Ranunculus sceleratus
5 (1) Aquatic plants or gr owing in muddy places along streams, with flaccid stems, sometimes floating, rooting at nodes. Flowers on long, axillary peduncles   (6)
+ If stems flaccid, plants gr owing in different habitats. (cf. R. munroanus)   (7)
6 (5) Leaves orbicular to kidney-shaped, with deeply cordate base. Lobes nearly equal all around the margin, sometimes divided (var. multifidus)   5 Ranunculus natans
+ Leaves obovate to suborbicular, with cuneate base. Lobes confined to the distal part of the leaves   6 Ranunculus lobatus
7 (5) At least the upper leaves entire or apically cuneate with a few teeth, lanceolate to ± oblong   (8)
+ All the leaves more or less deeply tripartite to palmatipartite or 2-3-pinnatifid   (9)
8 (7) Leaves with long, soft, appressed hairs. Calyx hairy   7 Ranunculus membranaceus
+ Leaves glabrous or slightly hairy, not with long, soft, appressed hairs   8 Ranunculus pulchellus
9 (7) Long creeping stolons present   9 Ranunculus repens
+ Long creeping stolons absent   (10)
10 (9) Achenes flattened at maturity, with a distinct margin (sides slightly convex in R. laetus and R. diffusus)   (11)
+ Achenes more or less inflated at maturity, without a distinct margin   (15)
11 (10) Stems flaccid, sometimes rooting at nodes   10 Ranunculus diffusus
+ Stems never flaccid nor rooting at nodes   (12)
12 (11) +Leaves distinctly wider than long, kidney-shaped, tripartite with lobed segments, the central of which is much wider than the lateral ones   11 Ranunculus afghanicus
+ Leaves usually longer than wide   (13)
13 (12) Root-stock woody, elongate. Roots fibrous. Stout plants 30-70 cm high, appressed hairy. Leaf-segments large, lanceolate   12 Ranunculus laetus
+ Root-stock not elongate, with numerous cylindrical, fleshy roots in addition to the fibrous ones   (14)
14 (13) Stout plants (30-) 60-90 cm high with long-stalked leaf-segments of the first order which are 1-2 pinnate with linear lobes of the ultimate order. Flowers usually less than 20 mm in diameter   13 Ranunculus pangiensis
+ Slender plants 20-30 cm high, leaf-division similar, but stalks of the segments short. Flowers often 25 mm or more in diameter   14 Ranunculus chaerophyllos
15 (10) Achenes hairy all the time or glabrescent at a very late stage (in doubt cf. R. glacialiformiswhich has hairy fruitlets sometimes)   15 Ranunculus hirtellus
+ Achenes glabrous from the beginning   (16)
16 (15) Calyx densely covered with reddish-brown hairs   16 Ranunculus rufosepalus
+ Calyx glabrous or with whitish to dull yellowish hairs   (17)
17 (16) Calyx deep red, with a few whitish hairs, soon glabrescent. Usually small, caespitose herbs of higher altitudes   20 Ranunculus rubrocalyx
+ Calyx never deep red   (18)
18 (17) Stems usually erect, neither filiform nor flaccid. Flowers not axillary   (19)
+ Stems filiform, flaccid, ± erect or decumbent and sometimes rooting at the nodes. Flowers on long, axillary peduncles   (22)
19 (18) Stout plants with ternate leaves, the segments of which are lanceolate and sessile or shortly stalked, the central one undivided, the two lateral ones bifid nearly to the base, rarely   23 Ranunculus palmatifidus
+ Smaller plants with a different type of leaf-division   (20)
20 (19) Leaves obliquely tru ncate at the base. Flowers 24-30 mm in diameter   18 Ranunculus stewartii
+ Leaves cordate or subcordte at the base. Flowers 15-20 mm in diameter   (21)
21 (20) Plants with a single stem and a single rarely 2-3 apical flowers. Style very long, strongly recurved   17 Ranunculus karakoramicola
+ Plants with numerous stems bearing several flowers. Style very short   19 Ranunculus glacialiformis
22 (18) Flowers 5-6 mm in diameter. Leaves 5-8 mm wide, kidney-shaped stems often rooting at the nodes   22 Ranunculus jacquemontii
+ Flowers 5-10 mm in diameter. Leaves kidney shaped to orbicular, 10-25 mm in diameter. Stems not rooting at nodes   21 Ranunculus munroanus

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