Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition

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Key F: subgenus Ranunculus; section Polyanthemos (and Ranunculus)

1 Petals 2-6 mm long, about as long as the sepals; [section Polyanthemos].
..2 Basal leaves simple; achene beak strongly hooked
..2 Basal leaves 3-foliolate; achene beak straight or nearly so.
....3 Petals 4-6 mm long, 3.5-5 mm wide; achene beak 1.0-1.2 mm long; [WV northward]
....3 Petals 2-4 mm long, 1.2.5 mm wide; achene beak 0.6-0.8 mm long; [widespread]
1 Petals 5-15 mm long, (1.3-) 1.5× or more as long as the sepals; achene beak straight, flexuous, slightly curved, or hooked, 0.2-3.0 mm long.
......4 Achene beaks recurved or hooked, the stigmatic surface elongate, along the upper (curved) side of the style (beak) (visible at 10×); [introduced, usually weedy in disturbed habitats].
........5 Stems repent, rooting at the nodes; [section Polyanthemos]
........5 Stems erect, not rooting at the nodes.
..........6 Petals 5-8 mm long; plant a soft-based annual; achene face usually with at least a few conical protuberances (if examined carefully at 10× or more); [section Polyanthemos]
..........6 Petals 8-16 mm long; plant a cormose or hard-based perennial; achene face truly smooth.
............ 7 Sepals spreading; stems not cormose-thickened at the base; larger leaves appearing (3-) 5-parted, all of the segments sessile; plant to 12 dm tall; [section Ranunculus]
............ 7 Sepals tightly reflexed; stems cormose-thickened at the base; larger leaves pinnately 3-5-parted, the terminal segment long-stalked; plant to 6 dm tall; [section Polyanthemos]
......4 Achene beaks straight or slightly curved, flexuous, the stigmatic surface limited to the tip of the style (beak); [native, normally in more-or-less natural habitats]; [section Polyanthemos].
............ ..8 Larger leaves mostly pinnately 3-7-foliolate, the terminal leaflet larger than the lateral leaflets, the leaflets (especially the terminal) often further cleft or lobed, the blade usually longer than wide in outline, the segments often rather narrow; naked receptacle conical, tapering gradually to the apex (the region of staminal attachment as thick as the region of gynoecial attachment, which tapers through all or nearly all of its length, best seen by stripping off the achenes); rhizome regenerating totally each growing season, producing both fibrous and (at the end of the growing season) tuberous roots (1.3-4.9 mm in diameter); [rare in our area, in calcareous, mafic, or ultramafic sites with prairie affinities]
............ ..8 Larger leaves mostly palmately 3-foliolate, the terminal leaflet about the same size as the lateral leaflets, the leaflets sometimes further cleft or lobed, the blade usually as wide as long or wider; naked receptacle clavate or ellipsoid (the region of staminal attachment distinctly narrower than the region of gynoecial attachment, thus forming a waist, from which the gynoecial region expands and then tapers to the apex); rhizome regenerated partially each growing season, producing uniform, fibrous roots (up to 3.0 mm in diameter); leaves usually simple and ovate, or trifoliate with ovate leaflets; [collectively widespread in our area].
............ ....9 Achenes wide-margined (wider portions of the margin 1/4 to 2/3 as wide as the achene body); plants colonial, sending out stolons (by the time of fruiting) which root at the nodes, forming new plants; sepals reflexed at full anthesis
............ ....9 Achenes narrow-margined (wider portions of the margin 1/8 or less as wide as the achene body); plants usually erect or repent by the time of fruiting (if repent sometimes forming adventitious roots at the nodes, but not generally developing new plants); sepals spreading at full anthesis (sometimes reflexed later).
............ ......10 Plants repent; aerial shoots 50-80 (-91) cm long at time of fruiting; [generally of swamps and marshes]
............ ......10 Plants erect; aerial shoots 14-45 (-60) cm long at time of fruiting; [generally of upland habitats]