Corn buttercup Ranunculus arvensis

Status Red - Endangered & Critically Endangered
Best Time to See

A smaller relative of the more common buttercups with a paler lemon-yellow hue.

However, its the seeds which are the most impressive and characteristic element of this flower: they are large (up to almost a centimetre long - quite a size for such a small plant), oval and covered in spines up to 2mm in length.

Corn buttercup leaves are stalked and deeply dissected, divided into 3-5 lobes.


Formerly widespread throughout the south and east of England but has declined rapidly over the last 60 years, now with few viable populations. A strong-hold remains in the south-west Midlands, with other sites scattered from Devon to Suffolk.


An arable species, it is typically found in the margins of fields sown with winter cereals. It is found most frequently on heavy clay soils.

Best time to see

Flowers from May to mid June.


It is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ and is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Listed as a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Key threats

The main causes of decline are a direct result of the intensification of arable farming, key factors being improved seed cleaning of all arable crops, the introduction of broad-spectrum herbicides and the density of modern crops, with R. arvensis competing poorly with a fully fertilised crop.