Ranunculus escholtzii var trisectus is a multi-stemmed perennial herb, standing 5 to 20 cm tall. The root system is composed of a crown with a fibrous system below. Flowering stems are thickend and hold between 1 and 3 flowers at their apex. The flowers are bright yellow, symmetrically rounded, reaching a diameter of 1 to 2 cm, with petals longer than 8 mm. As is typicaly of members of the Ranunculaceae plant family, the calyx and corolla are composed of five sepals and petals respectively. The hairy sepals are dropped quickly once the flower opens. Flowering season is from June to August. The basal leaves are kidney shaped, petiolate, 1 to 3 cm long, and lobed. There are 3 to 5 main lobes on the basal leaves, if there are any cauline leaves, though not typical, they will be 3 lobed. The fruit of R. escholtzii var trisectus is a hairless achene, up to 2 mm long with a slender beak. The achenes are arranged in heads of 30 to 80 individual fruits.
The typical habitat includes mountain meadows and talus or rocky slopes of subalpine and alpine elevations. Geographically, the distribution runs from the Yukon and Northwest Territory in the north, to New Mexico in the south.
In reference to the elevational location of R. excholtzii var. trisectus, the common name is mountain buttercup.
Photo taken at the trail head to the White Cloud Mountains of the Sawtooth Range near Stanley, Idaho.
Hitchcock, C.L. and A. Cronquist (1994) Flora of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.
Kershaw, L., A. MacKinnon and J. Pojar (1998) Plants of the Rocky Mountains. Lone Pine Publishing, Washing, Canada.