Short notes on Family Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)



It is commonly known as buttercup family. They are chiefly found in temperate and arctic regions. Ranunculus equalities are a halophyte.

Vegetative characters:


The plants are annual or perennial herbs or a climbing shrubs, Clematis (twining petiole), Narvelia (terminal leaflet modified into tendril) and rarely trees. They perennate by means of tuberous roots (Aconitum) or rhizomes.


Tap root, adventitious or tuberous (Ranunculus spp. and Aconitum). The tap root system in the initial stage but sooner or later repeated by the adventitious roots.


Herbaceous, in some climbing (clematis) or underground rhizome or erect, branched.


Generally simple, alternate or opposite (clematis), exstipulate, rarely stipulate (Thalictrum). Sheathing leaf base. Petiolate rarely sessile (Delphinium). In some aquatic species leaves may show dimorphy (Heterophilly) (Ranunculus aquatilis), unicostate or multicostate, reticulate venation.


Solitary terminal (Anemone), axillary (Clematis), raceme (Aconitum, Delphinium) and cymose (Ranunculus).


Pedicellate, ebracteate, rarely bracteate, hermaphrodite, (unisexual in Thalictrum). Mostly actinomorphic (Ranunculus), rarely zygomorphic (Delphinium and Aconitum) hypogynous, complete pentamerous.


There is no distinction of calyx and corolla in most of the plants.


Sepals 5, caducous, polysepalous, petaloid, inbricate or valvate aestivation.


Petals 5, polypetalous, variously coloured, caducous or wanting, nectaries present at the base of petals. Petals are united to form spurin Delphinium.


Stamens indefinite, polyandrous, spirally arranged on the thalamus inferior, anthers dithecous, extrose and adnate.


Multicarpellary (one carpel in Delphinium and 3 to 5 in Aconitum), apocarpous. Rarely syncarpous (Nigella), ovary superior, marginal placentation as in Delphinium, basal as in Ranunculus and axile in Nigella.


Aggregate, etaerio of achienes (Ranunculus), etaerio of follicles (Aconitum), follicle (Delphinium), Septicidal capsule (Nigella) or berry (Actaea), etaerio of drupes (Adonis). Etaerio of berries (Hydrastis) and simple pod (Xanthorhiza)

Economic Importance:

(1) Ornamental Plants:

Ranunculus, Dalphinium ajacis (Larkspur, violet flowers) Anemone Pulsatilla, Nigella sativa (Hindi- Kalaunji) white flowers, Clematispaniculata (Virgin's Bower).

(2) Medicinal Plants:

(a) Aconitum napillus:

Alkaloid aconite extracted from roots, used for blood pressure.

(b) Anemone Pulsatilla:

Yields famous homeopathic medicine Pulsatilla. It is used for nerve exhaustion in women and for menstrual troubles.

(c) Ranunculus ficaria:

Used for piles.

(3) Condiments:

(a) Nigella sativa (Hindi-Kalaunji): Seeds used as condiment.