Ranunculus sceleratus is an annual or short-lived perennial herb to 60 cm, stems 1-3, erect, stout, hollow, smooth, branched above.
Leaves alternate, succulent, long-stalked, blades deeply 3-parted, segments divided again and toothed, upper leaves smaller, usually of 3 linear segments.
Flowers pale yellow, petals to 0.3 cm long, shorter than sepals, inflorescence stalks finely hairy, flowers numerous; blooming May-Aug.
Fruit a cylindrical to rounded head of dry achenes to 1 cm long, achenes 0.1 cm, thickened and corky at base, usually with minute cross ridges on central area.
Wetland status: OBL.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Origin: Circumboreal Partially native, partially Eurasian.
Habitat: Wet soil of open areas, marshes, tolerates brackish water.
Notes: Contains the toxic oil protoanemonin in higher concentrations than many other Ranunculus species (Kingsbury 1964). Juice from the stems is said to cause blisters; this may be why the plant is called “cursed.” (CT Botanical society, 2003).