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Book cover - Alpine Plants of New ZealandAlpine Plants
of New Zealand


Ranunculus insignis


Ranunculus insignisReproduced from
Alpine Plants of New Zealand
ISBN 0 7900 0525 5
by kind permission of the author, Lawrie Metcalf and Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the author and publisher. Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Alpine Plants of New Zealand must always be given.


  • This species varies from a robust herb 50-60 cm tall, to a smaller tufted plant no more than 10 cm or so tall.
  • Leaves: Heart- or kidney-shaped, thick and leathery with brown hairs fringing their toothed margins. On the larger forms they are 15-22 cm in diameter, while on small forms they may be no more than 2-4 cm in diameter.
  • Flowers: The flowering stem is branched (may be unbranched and with only a single flower in small forms) and carries numerous bright yellow flowers, 2-5 cm in diameter. Usually five to seven petals, but may be up to 12 on plants in some areas of Marlborough.

Distribution & Habitat

  • North and South Islands in subalpine to low alpine regions: North Island from Mount Hikurangi southwards; South Island from Nelson and Marlborough to about mid Canterbury. 700-1800 metres. (Along parts of the Kaikoura coast it occurs almost down to sea level.)
  • Occurs in shady areas of grassland, herbfield, subalpine shrubland, on sheltered bluffs and rock outcrops.


  • Identification: With its bold, green leaves and bright yellow flowers it is a handsome and easily recognised species, although, as currently understood, the species is an amalgam of several forms ranging from the larger plants, commonly regarded as R. insignis, to smaller plants formerly regarded as distinct species. The smallest forms generally occur in the southern part of its range.
  • Flowering: October to December.


Web-notes: Alpine Garden Links

On this site

Reproduced from Alpine Plants of New Zealand:

Also see the article by Raymond Mole on:
New Zealand Alpine Plants: A Challenge for Growers


NZAGSExternal Links

New Zealand Alpine Garden Society


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Last updated: March 1, 2021