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Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Ranunculus

Buttercups are a large genus of flowering plants called Ranunculus. It has yellow, shiny, petals, and grows wild in many places. It is poisonous to eat for humans and cattle, but when dry the poison is not active.

Types of buttercup[change | change source]

There are about 200 to 600 species in this one genus. They mostly have yellow or sometimes white flowers. Buttercups include a wide variety of flower types, grouped by a plant naming system in the genus Ranunculus. Among them are the Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris), Goldilocks Buttercup (R. auricomus), Creeping Buttercup (R. repens), Large White Buttercup (R. platanafolius), Celery-leaved Buttercup (R. sceleratus), Corn Buttercup (R. arvensis), Bulbous Buttercup (R. bulbosus) and Glacial Buttercup (R. glacialis).

Lesser Celandine (R. ficaria), Lesser Spearwort (R. flammula), and Greater Spearwort (R. lingua) also belong to the buttercup family.

Plants of the commonly named buttercup family grow in many different variations but most can be identified by their yellow cupped flowers and free-growing habit. The plants often climb or sprawl, with leaves arranged in spirals. Some may contain leaves without stipules and flowers with many stamens.

Molecular investigation of the genus shows that Ranunculus is not monophyletic.[1] Proposals are under way to split up the genus.

Flower of Ranunculus glaberrimus

Folklore and Pop Culture[change | change source]

A 06 butterblume 2 wp.jpg

Highlights shining on the reflective petals of the buttercup can be seen in the images at left and above.

People sometimes hold a fresh buttercup flower under the chin of a friend or family member. If a yellow reflection from the flower's shiny petals can be seen under the chin, the person is said to "like butter". This custom is still taught to young children and shows how buttercup petals reflect light. They make people look pretty.

Some other plants and people are named buttercup, based on the name of the yellow wild flower. These include a type of pumpkin, and the girl's name Buttercup.

"Build Me Up Buttercup" was the name of a popular song by The Foundations during the 1960s. A cartoon character from the Powerpuff Girls television series was also named Buttercup. Buttercups and their poisonous effect are used as a theme in the PC game Undertale.

In 1916, an elderly man went around a field painting all the buttercups blue.

References[change | change source]

  1. Emadzade K. et al 2010. A molecular phylogeny, morphology and classification of genera of Ranunculeae (Ranunculaceae). Taxon 59: 809–828.