bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)
St. Anthony's turnip
Ranunculus bulbosus var. dissectus Barbey
Ranunculus bulbosus var. valdepubens (Jord.) Briq.
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of bulbous but-
tercup is Ranunculus bulbosus L.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: Bulbous buttercup is an introduced, low-growing, erect perennial,
that ranges from 8 to 24 inches in height (generally more prostrate in turf-
grass and lawns). Thes stems are occasionally hairy near the base and end
in a typical buttercup flower.
Leaves: There are alternate and sessile leaves on the stem. Basal leaves
occur on long petioles and are divided into 3 lobes. As the leaves become
more mature, the central lobe occurs on it's own stalk while the lateral
lobes are attached directly to the main leaf petiole. Stem leaves are gen-
erally smaller than the basal leaves and arranged alternately along the
stem. Stem leaves are also less distinctively lobed than the basal leaves.
Flowers: Single flowers occur on flower stalks at the ends of stems. Flow-
ers range from 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches wide and consist of 5 to 7 bright yellow
petals. Sepals immediately below flowers distinctly reflexed.
Fruit/Seeds: The fruit is an achene.
Roots: The base of the plant is thickened into a structure known as a corm,
which resembles a bulb. Corms aren't always as evident; in younger plants,
a thickened base may be all that occurs.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Bulbous buttercup propogates
itself by reseeding.
HABITAT TYPES: Bulbous buttercup are common weeds of turfgrass,
lawns, pastures, hay fields, and occasionally landscapes. Although it
doesn't generally grow in proper crops or improved grassland, it is often
found in hay fields and in coastal grassland.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Bulbous buttercup prefers nutrient-poor,
well-drained soils that are in full sun.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The plant blooms from April to July.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Bulbous buttercup has an unusual
distribution. It can be found throughout most of eastern United States
and Canada (excepting Florida and New Brunswick), extending as far
west as Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kansas, although it is uncommon in
most the Great Plains region. It then reoccurs in the far western Pacific
region, ranging from California, Oregon, Washington, and British
Columbia. It is absent from most of the Great Plains states and provin-
ces, the southwest, and the Rocky Mountain states and provinces.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: While there is insufficient information
concerning the fauna relations with bulbous buttercup, Ranunculus
species in general are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepi-
doptera species including Hebrew character and small angle shades.
Some species are popular ornamental flowers in horticulture, with
many cultivars selected for large and brightly coloured flowers.
This plant, like other buttercups, contains the toxic glycoside ranun-
culin. It is avoided by livestock when fresh, but when the plant dries
the toxin is lost, so hay containing the plant is safe for animal con-
sumption. In spite of its toxic nature, this plant is listed as an herbal
remedy used in homeopathy for subepidermal blistering of the skin,
especially in summer.
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