“Hispid” is a term botanists use to describe plant hairs that are stiff, rigid, or bristly, which fits this densely hairy buttercup. It is a sparsely to densely hairy perennial with upright stems, sometimes spreading at the base and rooting at the nodes. Flowers 5-petaled, yellow, with many stamens; petals often recurved, twice as long as sepals. Blooms March–June. Leaves (at least some) compound with 3 parts, each leaflet coarsely toothed, often with 3 lobes, the lateral two sessile and the terminal one with or without a very short stem. Overall leaf shape is wide, ovate or nearly heart-shaped, at times wider than long. Basal leaves present at flowering and have long petioles; leaves are progressively smaller and have shorter petioles higher on the stem.
Similar species: There are 18 species of Ranunculus recorded for Missouri. Key features for separating hispid buttercup from the other most common Missouri buttercups are its having all leaves (including the basal ones) lobed, divided, or dissected; the petals showy and longer than the sepals, and the leaves equally as wide, or wider, than long.