Lesser spearwort

Lesser Spearwort

©Richard Burkmarr

Lesser spearwort

Scientific name: Ranunculus flammula
So-named for its spear-like leaves, Lesser spearwort can be found along the edges of ponds, lakes and streams, and in marshes and wet meadows. As a buttercup, it displays familiar, butter-yellow flowers.

Species information


Height is around 30cm.

Conservation status


When to see

June to October


Lesser spearwort is a common, hairless perennial of fresh water, such as the edges of ponds, lakes and streams, and in marshes, water meadows and bogs. A member of the buttercup family, it displays the familiar sunshine-yellow flowers that define this group. However, its leaves are undivided and spear-like, hence its name, 'Spearwort'. It has distinctive, scrambling red-tinged stems that can root at leaf junctions.

How to identify

Lesser spearwort grows upright, but can be low and spreading. It has distinctive, red-tinged stems and shiny, pale yellow flowers that are half the size of those of Greater Spearwort. Unlike other buttercups, the leaves are undivided, spear-shaped and slightly toothed.


Lesser spearwort is found in clean

Did you know?

The sap of the Lesser spearwort is bitter and acrid and, if touched, will easily cause blisters.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.