Ranunculus gelidus is a tufted perennial in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) that grows in moist sites in talus and scree and in open pockets of soil in alpine tundra, with small yellow flowers. Plants grow 5-15 cm tall from a branching caudex. The basal leaves are long-petioled, rounded or heart-shaped in outline, three-parted and divided into elliptic segments, with rounded tips. Flowering stems have leaves only at the very base. The stems of this species are pubescent above, and typically have one solitary flower per stem, occasionally branching and producing 2-3 flowers. The five yellow petals are barely longer than the sepals, 3-5 mm long. Flowers are perfect. The fruit is a round-ovateachene, with a short, curved beak. Ranunculus gelidus can be distinguished from other Ranunculus species by its pubescent flowering stems, having petals equal to the sepals and the twice-ternately divided leaves.
Ranunculus gelidus is perennial and flowers in early summer in Denali.
This species is monoecious with bisexual flowers. The species is likely insect pollinated, as the flowers produce nectar, but its reproductive biology has not been studied.
Ranunculus gelidus is an amphi-Beringian species, which occurs in North America from Alaska southward down the western Cordillera to Utah and Colorado. In Denali, this species occurs in the alpine zone on the north side of the Alaska Range, with some localities on the south side, including areas of the Chulitna and Yentna river drainages.