Lesser Spearwort

Ranunculus flammula

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A very variable, common, short/medium hairless perennial buttercup of wet places.

How to identify

Lesser spearwort has distinctive scrambling, red-tinged stems which can root at leaf junctions. It is a native, perennial herb growing upright, up to 50cm, or low and spreading. The flowers are a shiny, pale yellow ranging from 7 to 20mm (less than half the width of greater spearwort). It looks like a buttercup, complete with loose sepals. However, unlike buttercups, the leaves are undivided and spear-shaped - hence its common name of spearwort. The leaves are linear and slightly toothed. It spreads by runners that root at the leaf nodes.

Where to find it

Lesser Spearwort is found in clean freshwater where water levels fluctuate, such as the edges of ponds, lakes and streams, and in marshes, water meadows and bogs.


When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Species information

Common name
Lesser Spearwort
Latin name
Ranunculus flammula
Height is around 30cm.
Conservation status
no current designation