Tall Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)

Tall Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) Flower

The Tall Buttercup (Ranunculus acris); also called the Common Buttercup, Blister Plant, and Meadow Buttercup; is a perennial forb/herb in the Ranunculaceae family. The family and genus names come from the Latin for "little frog" because this family prefers wet areas. The species name is from the Latin for "bad tasting," that is, acrid. This plant has a very acrid fluid (glycoside ranunculin) that discourages foraging by animals. The Tall Buttercup grows to 40 inches (one meter). It blooms from May through October.

The flower is about one inch (2.54 centimeters) wide and has five shinny, yellow petals and five, green sepals. Occasionally, there as many as eight overlapping petals. The petals are twice as long as the sepals. The sepals fall off the flower shortly after the flower blooms. There are numerous stamen and pistils. The petals are broadly ovate and tend to overlap forming a cup-like arrangement, whence the common name. The shinny appearance is due to a special layer of cells just beneath the top epidermal cells. If this flower is held to a surface in bright light, it will cast a yellow hue on the surface

Tall Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) Leaves

The leaves consist of three lobes on one petiole. Each lobe is palmately (palm-like) cut into segments that lack stalks. The basal leaves are from one to four inches (2,54 to 10 centimeters) wide. Leaves on the upper stem, as shown in the photograph above, are generally smaller but the same shape as the basal leaves. The leaves and stems have fine hairs (trichomes).

The fruit is a seed cluster. The seeds are tan and about 0,08 inches (2 millimeters) long and have little hooks at one end.

The roots are rhizomes. This plant is very invasive spreading rapidly by rhizomes and seeds. It is considered a noxious weed in some states. 


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