If it isn’t too much to have two similar-looking buttercup family representatives in a row, here are some images from just over a week ago.
Ranunculus triternatus (syn. Ranunculus reconditus) is an almost-endemic to the Columbia Gorge area of Washington and Oregon. A single location near Elko, Nevada and another in southeastern Idaho have also been reported. However, there is little information about the latter two reports online that I can find–most seem to be derived from the Flora of North America account for Ranunculus triternatus. Two common names are in use for the species, obscure buttercup and Dalles Mountain buttercup (the latter referring to the area where it is found near in Washington and Oregon).
Most research and conservation monitoring work has been done with the Washington and Oregon populations. According to the Center for Plant Conservation, ten occurrences of Ranunculus triternatus are known in these states: “In WA, 8 occurrences known since 1987. Populations range from “100+” to “several hundred.” One other occurrence was reported in 1938, but the location data is not complete. Either it cannot be re-located, or it has been extirpated (WNHP 2000). 2 occurrences are currently known in Oregon with population numbers ranging from 50 to 800 (ONHP 2000).”. I suppose that puts the number of individual plants worldwide at around 3500 +/- a thousand or so. I observed about seventy in flower during my brief visit to the area on a cloudy late afternoon.
As noted by Paul Slichter on his page for Ranunculus triternatus (includes additional photos!), the species “is found primarily in fairly undisturbed grasslands or areas of mixed grasslands and sagebrush. Plants are generally found in deeper soils among bunch grasses rather than in the thinner rocky poorer soils which are frequently found on the hillsides”.
Additional photographs are available via the Oregon Flora Image Project (Ranunculus triternatus) and a scan of a specimen collected by Thomas Howell is available via Oregon State University Herbarium: Ranunculus triternatus.
I also had a request from a BPotD reader to include a bit of a photographic information from time to time. For these photographs, and for most photographs of buttercup flowers, I often find it necessary to underexpose the image. A camera-metered exposure will often blow out the yellows or introduce white spots on the petals due to the petals’ high reflectivity (you can see the white spotting beginning to occur on the last photo). A polarizer can also be useful, but it is perhaps more important to make the photographic attempt on a cloudy day. I had also photographed some Ranunculus occidentalis this day, but I’ve thrown away most of those images because they were taken in the sun and no detail was left in the flower petals (I kept a couple for reference to remind me that it was out in bloom in the region on that date).