Ranunculus acris

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Ranunculus acris
Illustration Ranunculus acris0.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Ranunculus
R. acris
Binomial name
Ranunculus acris
  • R. acerauct.
  • R. steveniiBeck

Ranunculus acris is a species of flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, and is one of the more common buttercups across Europe and temperate Eurasia. Common names include meadow buttercup, [1] tall buttercup, [2] common buttercup and giant buttercup.



Floral diagram of Ranunculus acris. The light green ovals denote nectaries. Ranunculus acris.svg
Floral diagram of Ranunculus acris. The light green ovals denote nectaries.

Ranunculus acris is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows to a height of 30 to 70 cm, with ungrooved flowing stems bearing glossy yellow flowers about 25 mm across. There are five overlapping petals borne above five green sepals that soon turn yellow as the flower matures. It has numerous stamens inserted below the ovary. The leaves are compound, with three-lobed leaflets. Unlike Ranunculus repens , the terminal leaflet is sessile. As with other members of the genus, the numerous seeds are borne as achenes.

The rare autumn buttercup (R. aestivalis) is sometimes treated as a variety of this species. [3]

The juice of the plant is semi-poisonous to livestock, causing blistering. [4]


The plant is native to Eurasia, but has been introduced across much of the world so that it now has a circumpolar distribution. [5] It is a naturalized species and often a weed in parts of North America, [6] but it is probably native in Alaska and Greenland. [7] In New Zealand it is a serious pasture weed costing the dairy industry hundreds of millions of dollars. [8] It has become one of the few pasture weeds that has developed a resistance to herbicides. [9]


In horticulture the species may be regarded as a troublesome weed, colonising lawns and paths. However, it may be a welcome feature of wildflower meadows. The double-flowered cultivar R. acris 'Flore Pleno' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. [10] [11]


Oils in the plant, probably present in the leaves and stems, can cause abdominal pains if consumed. When eaten by animals, the buttercups have caused diarrhea and blindness. [12]

Uses by Native Americans

The Abenaki smash the flowers and leaves and sniff them for headaches. [13] The Bella Coola apply a poultice of pounded roots to boils. [14] The Micmac use the leaves for headaches. [15] The Montagnais inhale the crushed leaves for headaches. [16]

The Cherokee use it as a poultice for abscesses, use an infusion for oral thrush, and use the juice as a sedative. [17] They also cook the leaves and eat them as greens. [17]

The Iroquois apply a poultice of the smashed plant to the chest for pains and for colds, take an infusion of the roots for diarrhea, [18] and apply a poultice of plant fragments with another plant to the skin for excess water in the blood. [19]

Related Research Articles

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Ficaria verna, commonly known as lesser celandine or pilewort, is a low-growing, hairless perennial flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae native to Europe and west Asia. It has fleshy dark green, heart-shaped leaves and distinctive flowers with bright yellow, glossy petals. It is now introduced in North America, where it is known by the common name fig buttercup and considered an invasive species. The plant is poisonous if ingested raw and potentially fatal to grazing animals and livestock such as horses, cattle, and sheep. For these reasons, several US states have banned the plant or listed it as a noxious weed. It prefers bare, damp ground and is considered by horticulturalists in the United Kingdom as a persistent garden weed; nevertheless, many specialist plantsmen, nursery owners and discerning gardeners in the UK and Europe collect selected cultivars of the plant, including bronze-leaved and double-flowered ones. Emerging in late winter with flowers appearing March through May in the UK, its appearance across the landscape is regarded by many as a harbinger of spring.

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<i>Ranunculus repens</i> Species of plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae

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<i>Ranunculus bulbosus</i> Species of flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae

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<i>Ranunculus sceleratus</i> Species of buttercup

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<i>Cestrum parqui</i> Species of flowering plant

Cestrum parqui, commonly known as palqui, green cestrum or willow-leaved jessamine, is a species of flowering plant native to Chile. In Australia the plant is regarded as a noxious invasive weed and a significant hazard to livestock which may eat it inadvertently or during shortages of other foods, often resulting in death.

<i>Ranunculus aconitifolius</i> Species of flowering plant

Ranunculus aconitifolius, the aconite-leaf buttercup or bachelor's buttons, is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native to central Europe. Growing to 60 cm (24 in) high by 40 cm (16 in) broad, this herbaceous perennial has slightly hairy palmate leaves up to 20 cm (8 in) long, and loose panicles of white, saucer-shaped flowers in spring.

<i>Ranunculus cymbalaria</i> Species of buttercup

Ranunculus cymbalaria is a species of buttercup known by the common names alkali buttercup and seaside buttercup. It is native to much of Eurasia and parts of North and South America, where it grows in many types of habitat, especially in moist to wet areas such as marshes, bogs, and moist spring meadows. It is a perennial herb producing several stems a few centimeters to nearly 40 centimeters long. Some are prostrate against the ground and are stolons which root in moist substrate, and some are erect. The leaves are variable in shape, the basal ones with notched or slightly divided leaf blades borne on long petioles, and any upper leaves much reduced in size. The inflorescence bears one or more flowers on erect stalks. The flower has five to eight pale yellow petals, each under a centimeter long. The protruding receptacle at the center of the flower becomes a cylindrical cluster of fruits, each of which is an achene.

<i>Ranunculus aestivalis</i> Species of buttercup

Ranunculus aestivalis is a rare species of buttercup known by the common names fall buttercup and autumn buttercup. It is endemic to the state of Utah in the United States, where it exists only in Garfield County next to the Sevier River. It is restricted to a moist microhabitat in an otherwise dry, open ecosystem, and the amount of available habitat is very limited. This is a federally listed endangered species of the United States. It has been described as "the most graceful and showy members of the genus in the western United States," but also "one of the state's rarest and most restricted plants."

<i>Ranunculus abortivus</i> Species of flowering plant

Ranunculus abortivus is a species of flowering plant in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Its common names include littleleaf buttercup, small-flower crowfoot, small-flowered buttercup, and kidneyleaf buttercup. It is widespread across much of North America, found in all ten Canadian provinces as well as Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and most of the United States, except Hawaii, Oregon, California, and parts of the Southwest.

This is a list of plants used by the indigenous people of North America. For lists pertaining specifically to the Cherokee, Iroquois, Navajo, and Zuni, see Cherokee ethnobotany, Iroquois ethnobotany, Navajo ethnobotany, and Zuni ethnobotany.

This is a list of plants documented to have been traditionally used by the Cherokee, and how they are used.

The Iroquois use a wide variety of medicinal plants, including quinine, chamomile, ipecac, and a form of penicillin.


  1. BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. "Ranunculus acris". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA . Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  3. USDA Plants Profile: R. aestivalis.
  4. Common Weeds of the United States. New York: Dover. 1971. p.  186. ISBN   0-486-20504-5.
  5. "Ranunculus acris". Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Biological Records Centre and Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  6. Invasive Weeds of King County, Washington
  7. Flora of North America
  8. Bourdôt, GW; Saville DJ (2010-08-31). "Giant buttercup - a threat to sustainable dairy farming in New Zealand". Proceedings of the Australasian Dairy Science Symposium: 355–359.
  9. Cronshaw, Tim (18 May 2012). "Profit-strangling weed immune to hebicides". The Press.
  10. "RHS Plant Selector - Ranunculus acris 'Flore Pleno'" . Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  11. "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 84. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  12. Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. (2009) [1982]. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods. New York: Sterling. p. 262. ISBN   978-1-4027-6715-9. OCLC   244766414.
  13. Rousseau, Jacques 1947 Ethnobotanique Abenakise. Archives de Folklore 11:145-182 (p. 166)
  14. Smith, Harlan I. 1929 Materia Medica of the Bella Coola and Neighboring Tribes of British Columbia. National Museum of Canada Bulletin 56:47-68 (p. 57)
  15. Chandler, R. Frank, Lois Freeman and Shirley N. Hooper 1979 Herbal Remedies of the Maritime Indians. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1:49-68 (p. 60)
  16. Speck, Frank G. 1917 Medicine Practices of the Northeastern Algonquians. Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Americanists Pp. 303-321 (p. 315)
  17. 1 2 Hamel, Paul B. and Mary U. Chiltoskey 1975 Cherokee Plants and Their Uses -- A 400 Year History. Sylva, N.C. Herald Publishing Co. (p. 31)
  18. Herrick, James William 1977 Iroquois Medical Botany. State University of New York, Albany, PhD Thesis (p. 320)
  19. Rousseau, Jacques 1945 Le Folklore Botanique De Caughnawaga. Contributions de l'Institut botanique l'Universite de Montreal 55:7-72 (p. 42)