This herbaceous perennial has both running stems, which produce roots and new plants at the nodes, and upright flowering stems. The leaves are divided into three deeply lobed leaflets. The bright yellow flowers are about 2.5 centimetres in diameter and have five to seven petals. They appear between May and August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female reproductive parts) and are pollinated by bees, flies and beetles. The fruits are smooth, spherical achenes tipped with a long, curved beak.
Buttercups are found most often in lowland pastures and wet habitats such as ditches, meadows and the edges of woodland. They prefer moist ground and can grow on poorly drained loamy and clay soils. Buttercups grow throughout most of Europe.