Mousetail Mousetail Mousetail Mousetail

What are they?

This rather unusual-looking plant is a relative of the buttercups, in the family Ranunculaceae. Although they may seem to be very different plants, careful study of the flowers and careful consideration of their structures will reveal a number of similarities and, before the flower spike starts to elongate after flowering, Mousetail flowers do indeed look rather similar to green-petalled buttercups.

Where are they found?

Mousetail favours open, muddy places that are typically wet in winter but dry out in summer.


Although their is little in the way of a flower to go on, the appearance of Mousetail is quite distinctive, with its long, narrow leaves and elongated flower spikes, each of which consist of a single flower. The main problem is finding it in the first place, as it blends almost seemlessly into patches of grass! The flower spikes do somewhat resemble the 'rat-tail' spikes of some of the plantains but close study will reveal that each segment of the elongated flower spike represents a single carpel, with just a single set of sepals and stamens at the very base of the spike; plantains have sepals, petals, stamens and stigmas at each segment of the spike as their spikes consist of many flowers.

Mousetail      Myosurus minimus

Native. Uncommon and declining nationally, in East Anglia now a rare plant found in a handful of wetland locations in north-west Norfolk, the Fens and coastal Suffolk, with sporadic occurences elsewhere. Formerly more widespread and used to occur as an arable weed in damp places. Flowers June to August. The elongate leaves and flowers somewhat resemble Sea plantain but the leaves are less fleshy and each spike consists of a single flower with an elongate centre, rather than a spike of many, small flowers. Flowers have five sepals and five green petals at the lase of the central spike of tightly-packed carpels.

Mousetail Mousetail Mousetail Mousetail
Seed heads