Leaves: all floating, eight to fourteen inches in diameter, broad-ovate, thick, deeply cordate, on stout half-cylindrical petioles. Flowers: two to five inches in diameter; sepals eight to twelve, unequal, concave and roundish; petals eleven to eighteen, dilated, truncate, shorter than the stamens. Fruit: globose, indehiscent.
This Pond Lily has numerous rounded concave sepals, which are of a deep orange-yellow colour inside and usually streaked and blotched with purple-red on the outside, and assume the function of petals; for the real petals of this plant, though very numerous, are inconspicuous and resemble the stamens, being thick, short, and fleshy.
The Yellow Pond Lily is not so beautiful as its cousin, the White Water-lily, yet the golden-hued mountain species is very fragrant; it has handsome floating foliage, and flowers which poets have not disdained to praise.
Longfellow described Hiawatha's canoe as floating "Upon the river Like a yellow leaf in autumn, Like a yellow water-lily."
This Pond Lily grows in still waters and slow streams, where, springing from thick, horizontal, deeply submerged rootstocks, the long stalks, which are flattened on the inner side and rounded on the outer side, uphold the gleaming floral cups, In many an alpine lake name denotes, is a small creeping plant, having numerous runners which root at the joints, whence spring up little clusters of leaves. The flowers are yellow and very tiny.
Ranunculus aquatilis var. capillaceus, or Water Crowfoot, has tiny white and yellow flowers. The fine threadlike leaves are entirely submerged under the surface of the alpine lakes and pools, where the plant grows abundantly, while the broader three-lobed leaves float upon the face of the waters. These thread-like leaves are common to several kinds of aquatic plants, and such minute division enables them without a large expenditure of material to expose a large surface to the carbonic acid gas dissolved in the water.
Ranunculus reptans, or Creeping Spearwort, has small yellow flowers with from four to seven petals, trailing stems that root at the joints, and extremely narrow grass-like leaves. The flowers are borne in the axils of the prostrate creeping stems.
Ranunculus repens, or Yellow Crowfoot, is a hairy plant, which spreads by means of its runners and forms large patches upon the ground; it has leaves which are divided into three parts, each one of which is lobed and toothed. The flower-stalk is grooved, the sepals are widely spread, and the petals are half-erect. This is an introduced plant.
Ranunculus pygmccus, or Pigmy Buttercup, is a very tiny plant growing only one to three inches high on the alpine summits. It has deeply three to five lobed basal leaves with slender stalks, and similar sessile stem leaves. The petals of the wee yellow flowers slightly exceed the sepals and the fruit heads are short-oblong.