Plant Common Name
The genus Ranunculus comprises about 300 species of herbaceous plants from the world's temperate and boreal regions. Its botanical name is said to refer to the Latin word for little frog as some Ranunculus species grow in marshy areas. Buttercups, crowfoot, and many other familiar ornamentals and weeds are found in this genus.
These often weedy annuals or perennials grow from tuberous roots, underground stems or swollen crowns. Some spread aggressively by runners. Most Ranunculus species bear leaves in ground-hugging rosettes, but leaves may also be produced on aerial stems. Individual leaves may be entire (without lobes or indentations) or dissected and lobed. Symmetrical bowl- or saucer-shaped blooms with three to seven (typically five) yellow, white, red, or green petals are produced in clusters (or in some cases singly) from the stem tips or leaf axils. Each flower has conspicuous nectar-producing glands and numerous stamens at its center. Rounded to columnar heads of beaked or smooth seed capsules follow the flowers.
Among the familiar members of this genus are garden or florist ranunculus, Ranunculus asiaticus; fair maids of Kent, Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'; meadow buttercup, Ranunculus acris; creeping buttercup, Ranunculus repens; and Constantinople buttercup, Ranunculus bulbosus 'Pleniflorus'. All are long-time favorites for cottage and cutting gardens where they have room to romp.
Hardiness range and cultural requirements vary between species and cultivars. Garden types tend to be sun-loving perennials. All buttercups have toxic properties and can pose a hazard to grazing animals: see http://www.library.illinois.edu/vex/toxic/butcup/butcup.htm
Sharp or Has Thorns