Autumn buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis) is endemic to Garfield County, Utah and is one of the state’s rarest and most restricted plants. It was presumed extinct until its rediscovery in 1982, when a population of about 450 plants was found. Since then, that population has declined sharply in numbers and vigor and a second population has been discovered. However, the total number of individuals is still only about 500. There is a very limited amount of suitable habitat in the area, and habitat degradation due to livestock grazing is occurring on much of it.
In 2017, The Arboretum at Flagstaff (TAF), the State of Utah Endangered Species Mitigation Fund, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service initiated the largest reintroduction of Autumn Buttercup to date. In June of 2017, we planted 900 individual buttercup into 10 separate sites on the TNC Preserve, where the entire Preserve had implemented limited cattle grazing to decrease the vegetative cover for small mammals. Sites were chosen based on best survivorship of past experiments, and all individuals were caged. The summer of 2017 proved to be severely dry, so we supplied water to all the individuals for a period of 3 months. As of September 2017, 721 individuals are alive.
CPC is grateful to The Arboretum at Flagstaff and all of the organizations working to preserve Ranunculus aestivalis.
The conservation experts at CPC participating institutions such as The Arboretum at Flagstaff share their in-depth conservation expertise about rare plants through CPC’s National Collection Plant Profiles.
Learn more about Autumn buttercup.
Autumn buttercup photo credit:Joyce Maschinski