California and southwest Oregon
From 7 to 27 inches
Coastal bluffs, grassland, woodland, moist meadows
Round or heart-shaped, up to 3 inches in length, on long stalks, usually three-lobed
February to April
Flowers of the California buttercup, ranunculus californicus, are formed of five green sepals, between 7 and 22 elliptic, yellow, overlapping petals, and a group of many stamens and pistils. The petals wither to leave a green center (the gynoecium), ringed by spiky carpels. Leaves are thick, divided into three segments, with rounded, lobed edges. The freely-branching plant grows generally sideways (2 to 3 feet) rather than upwards (1 to 2 feet). Stems and leaves can be smooth or lightly hairy.