CPC Plant Profile: Obscure Buttercup
Search / Plant Profile / Ranunculus reconditus
Plant Profile

Obscure Buttercup (Ranunculus reconditus)

Ranuculus reconditus's bright yellow flowers. Photo Credit: Molly Grothaus
Description
  • Global Rank: T2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • State: ID, NV, OR, WA
  • Nature Serve ID: 128262
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/04/1991

First of all, there are very few populations of Ranunculus reconditus. Secondly, although the species is listed as Endangered by the State of Oregon and Threatened by the State of Washington, only one piece of land is officially protected due to where the populations are located. Populations on the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve in Washington are the only sites officially (legally) protected from grazing and development. Other populations, while not protected by law, have been voluntarily protected. In Oregon, one large population was once on private land that was managed by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy purchased the land, and then sold it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), who now manages it. This population is monitored annually and appears stable. The land is on a grazing allotment, but because of the steep, rocky terrain where the buttercup lives, grazing does not impact the plants at this site (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.). The Obscure buttercup resembles the common, widespread sagebrush buttercup, Ranunculus glaberrimus. The common species has entire or broadly lobed leaves, while the rare Ranunculus reconditus has dissected leaves (divided into three sections). It is unknown why these plants, that look so much alike and are closely related, have such different distributions. R. glaberrimus is found in ponderosa pine woodlands and sagebrush desert from British Columbia to northern California, New Mexico, and as far east as the Dakotas and Nebraska. In contrast, Ranunculus reconditus is found at only 10 occurrences along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.

Participating Institutions
CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.
Updates
  • 09/23/2020
  • Propagation Research

Initial germination tests at The Berry Botanic Garden showed extremely low germination percentages. Only seeds subjected to 8 weeks of cold stratification germinated. When subsequently placed in 68F (20C) conditions, 17% germinated. Under alternating 50F/68F (10C/20C) temperatures, 43% of seeds germinated.

  • 09/23/2020
  • Demographic Research

Demographic monitoring of plants at three separate locations within the Natural Area Preserve was conducted between 1996 and 1998. High survival rates were documented for vegetative and reproductive plants (90-98%) but low rates for seedlings (18-29%). Seed production at one site averaged 3138 seeds/year while seedling recruitment was only 23 seedlings/year. Overall, populations appeared stable (Wilderman 2001).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

There are less than 10 known occurrences in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. The number of individuals is unknown, but apparently exceeds 1000. Threatened by land conversion to agriculture, use of herbicides, and possibly by recreation activities.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

The Washington Natural Heritage Program (WNHP 1999) states threats as: Livestock grazing Agricultural conversion Invasion of noxious weeds Hot fires due to increased leave litter after years of fire suppression Potential ORV use

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

In WA, 8 occurrences known since 1987. Populations range from ""100+"" to ""several hundred."" One other occurrence was reported in 1938, but the location data is not complete. Either it cannot be re-located, or it has been extirpated (WNHP 2000). 2 occurrences are currently known in Oregon with population numbers ranging from 50 to 800 (ONHP 2000).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Studies at the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Demographic monitoring of plants at three separate locations within the Natural Area Preserve was conducted between 1996 and 1998. High survival rates were documented for vegetative and reproductive plants (90-98%) but low rates for seedlings (18-29%). Seed production at one site averaged 3138 seeds/year while seedling recruitment was only 23 seedlings/year. Overall, populations appeared stable (Wilderman 2001). Initial germination tests at The Berry Botanic Garden showed extremely low germination percentages. Only seeds subjected to 8 weeks of cold stratification germinated. When subsequently placed in 68F (20C) conditions, 17% germinated. Under alternating 50F/68F (10C/20C) temperatures, 43% of seeds germinated. Further research should be done to determine if germination success can be increased (BBG File) Analysis of genetic diversity within and between populations using RAPD markers. Genetic comparison of the rare Ranunculus reconditus with the closely related and widespread R. glaberrimus (Sallie Herman, pers. comm.).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

The largest population is located on land designated as a Natural Area Preserve. It is protected against grazing and damage from agriculture. Demographic monitoring has been conducted. Annual monitoring of the Oregon population conducted by the BLM (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Locate extant populations (Meinke 1982) Study effect of fire on populations (WNHP 1999) Study impact of noxious weeds on R. reconditus (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.). Study pollination biology, seed germination and ecology, and seedling establishment (Wilderman 2001). Continue demographic monitoring to help elucidate long term population trends (Wilderman 2001)

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store seeds from all known populations Determine optimum germination conditions. Develop tissue culture methods if germination percentages remain low. Determine effective propagation and reintroduction protocols

MORE

Be the first to post an update!

Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Ranunculus reconditus
Authority A. Nels. & J.F. Macbr.
Family Ranunculaceae
CPC Number 3710
ITIS 519973
USDA RARE5
Common Names obscure buttercup
Associated Scientific Names Ranunculus reconditus | Ranunculus triternatus | Ranunculus glaberrimus var. reconditus
Distribution OR, WA OR: Wasco CountyWA: Klickitat County
State Rank
State State Rank
Idaho SNR
Nevada S1?
Oregon S1
Washington S1
Habitat

Habitat in Washington consists of open, well-drained slopes and basalt ridges dominated by scattered big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.). In Oregon, habitat is generally in openings within Oregon white oak (Quercus garreyana) woodland. Scattered ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and/or Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) may also be present. Elevations range from 2900-3900 ft (900-1200 m). Soils may be both loamy and moderately deep, or in the transition area between loamy and rocky, shallow soils.

Ecological Relationships

Plants emerge in February and early March (Wilderman, 2001). Flowers emerge very early in the year (early to mid-March), compared to other species in the area. This may give this buttercup a competitive advantage over other vegetation that flowers later when temperatures rise (WNHP 1999). Seeds are produced in April and leaves senesce (dry and fall off) by mid-May (Wilderman 2001).The primary pollinator is suspected to be Amecocerus sp. (a beetle). It has only been found crawling within plants, not flying, suggesting that pollination occurs within limited distance with other plants. As the fruit matures, the flowering stalk bends downward until the seed head touches the soil. Most seeds are dispersed under or near the parent plant, creating a """"clumped"""" distribution. Seed death, low germination, and seedling death are possible factors in explaining why such a small percentage of the seeds produced annually become established as seedlings (Wilderman 2001). Reproductive output and seedling establishment are dependant on yearly precipitation levels (Wilderman 2001). In Washington, the habitat has a fire interval of 30-90 years. It is not known if the species relies on fire in any way (WNHP 1999). However, in Oregon, the rocky, steep, and isolated habitat does not naturally burn (Ron Halvorson, pers. comm.).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today