Description: Herbs (sometimes rhizomatous or stoloniferous), woody climbers or rarely shrubs.
Leaves alternate or opposite, compound or simple, usually palmately lobed or dissected, petiole base generally sheathing; stipules usually absent.
Flowers solitary or in racemes or cymes, commonly actinomorphic, mostly bisexual. Receptacle often elongated. Perianth hypogynous, usually whorled, segments free, often but not always differentiated into sepals and nectary-bearing petals. Stamens mostly numerous and spirally arranged. Carpels several to many or rarely only 1, superior, free and spirally arranged.
Fruit of 1–several follicles or a head of achenes.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 70 genera, c. 3000 species, ± cosmopolitan. Australia: 10 genera, c. 60 species (5 genera, 12 species naturalized), all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Ranunculaceae, Order: Ranunculales)
Several taxa of Clematis and Ranunculus at present named as varieties appear to warrant specific rank. Some species of Anemone, Aquilegia, Clematis, Consolida, Delphinium, Nigella and Ranunculus are horticultural ornamentals; some Ranunculus species are weedy and many are somewhat toxic to stock. The previous record of Delphinium halteratum Sibth. & Smith naturalized on the NC is not substantiated, being based on a misidentification.
Text by B. G. Briggs & R. O. Makinson
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Fruiting heads of 1 or more follicles (sometimes united and forming a capsule); carpels with more than 1 ovule||2|
|Fruiting heads of achenes; carpels with 1 ovule||5|
|2||Plants more than 10 cm high; leaves deeply lobed or divided||3|
|Small alpine herbs mostly less than 10 cm high; leaves not deeply divided but often with 2 basal appendages|
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|3||Flowers actinomorphic, always solitary||Nigella|
|Flowers zygomorphic, flowers in racemes or branched racemose inflorescences|
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|4||Leaf segments linear||Consolida|
|Leaf segments lobed with crenate margins|
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|5||Usually climbers and more or less woody; leaves opposite; flowers often unisexual||Clematis|
|Terrestrial or aquatic herbs; leaves alternate; flowers bisexual|
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|6||Petals spurred; achenes on an elongated receptacle, fruiting head more than 10 times as long as thick||Myosurus|
|Petals not spurred; achenes forming a globose or ellipsoid head|
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|7||Petals mostly white or yellow, bearing nectaries; anthers commonly yellow||7|
|Petals often red when fresh, without nectaries; anthers often black-purple|
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|8||Aquatic herbs with submerged leaves divided into filiform segments and with membranous stipules; petals white||Batrachium|
|Terrestrial or aquatic herbs, leaf segments broader, without distinct stipules; petals yellow or white|