Fig Buttercup: If You See It, Report It

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023
The fig buttercup has heart-shaped leaves and 8 to 12 yellow petals in each flower. Contact Administrative Support Specialist Lindsay Rhew if you spot it.

As early spring flowers show their colors, please be on the lookout for an unwelcome yellow blooming plant.

The fig buttercup (Ficaria verna) is a low-growing, green plant with rubbery, heart-shaped leaves and 8 to 12 thin yellow petals. It could do a lot of damage to the native plants growing on Hillsborough’s stream banks and the lowlands along the Eno River. The plant forms many small bulbs, or bulblets, and quickly creates a thick carpet of plant material that chokes out native plants. The fig buttercup blooms in February and early March, making this a great time to identify and eradicate the plant.

The Hillsborough Tree Board would like your help in preventing this invasive species from taking over native plant territory in our community. The Tree Board asks that you not try to remove the plant on your own because it is easy to accidentally spread it. The plant spreads bulblets rapidly when disturbed.

The fig buttercup is native to Europe, North Africa and West Asia. It can take over home lawns and plant beds. The plant’s small bulbs easily wash downstream during heavy rain events.  

It is sometimes confused with the native marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), which has round or kidney-shaped leaves and 5 to 9 yellow petals but no tubers or bulblets.

If you think you may know where the plant is growing in our area, please report it to Administrative Support Specialist Lindsay Rhew at or 919-296-9600. Volunteers Holly Reid and Rich Shaw and other community members will then identify the plant and remove it.

Hillsborough residents Reid and Shaw are part of a four-county team working to remove the fig buttercup under the direction of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the North Carolina Invasive Plant Council. This is the fourth spring they have trekked through lowlands to identify and remove the fig buttercup. They also work with property owners to remove fig buttercup plants on private property in the most effective way.

In addition to reporting possible locations of the plant, you can also help by telling your neighbors and friends about this invasive species. 

“Thank you for helping to spread the word and not the plant!” Reid said.

Related documents

Document Fig buttercup fact sheet  

Document Fig buttercup flyer