Ranunculus acris

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Ranunculus acris
Ranunculus acris niittyleinikki.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Ranunculus
Species: R. acris
Binomial name
Ranunculus acris
L.
Synonyms
  • R. acer auct.
  • R. stevenii Beck

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 and giant buttercup.

Description[edit]

This species is variable in appearance across the world. It is a somewhat hairy plant that has ascending, 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. This and other buttercups contain ranunculin, which breaks down to the toxin protoanemonin, a chemical that can cause dermatitis and vomiting.

The rare autumn buttercup (R. aestivalis) is sometimes treated as a variety of this species.[2]

Distribution[edit]

The plant is an introduced species across much of the world. It is a naturalized species and often a weed in parts of North America,[3] but it is probably native in Alaska and Greenland.[4] In New Zealand it is a serious pasture weed costing the dairy industry hundreds of millions of dollars.[5] It has become one of the few pasture weeds that has developed a resistance to herbicides.[6]

In horticulture the species may be regarded as a troublesome weed, colonising lawns and paths. However, it may be a welcome feature of wildfower meadows. The double-flowered cultivar R. acris 'Flore Pleno' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[7]

Uses by Native Americans[edit]

The Abenaki smash the flowers and leaves and sniff them for headaches.[8] The Bella Coola apply a poultice of pounded roots to boils.[9] The Micmac use the leaves for headaches.[10] The Montagnais inhale the crushed leaves for headaches.[11]

The Cherokee use it as a poultice for abscesses, use an oral infusion for "thrash", and use the juice as a sedative.[12] They also cook the leaves and eat them as greens.[13]

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,[14] and apply a poultice of plant fragments with another plant to the skin for excess water in the blood.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (XLS) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  2. ^ USDA Plants Profile: R. aestivalis.
  3. ^ Invasive Weeds of King County, Washington
  4. ^ Flora of North America
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Cronshaw, Tim (18 May 2012). "Profit-strangling weed immune to hebicides". The Press. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Ranunculus acris 'Flore Pleno'". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Rousseau, Jacques 1947 Ethnobotanique Abenakise. Archives de Folklore 11:145-182 (p. 166)
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Chandler, R. Frank, Lois Freeman and Shirley N. Hooper 1979 Herbal Remedies of the Maritime Indians. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1:49-68 (p. 60)
  11. ^ Speck, Frank G. 1917 Medicine Practices of the Northeastern Algonquians. Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Americanists Pp. 303-321 (p. 315)
  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ 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)
  14. ^ Herrick, James William 1977 Iroquois Medical Botany. State University of New York, Albany, PhD Thesis (p. 320)
  15. ^ Rousseau, Jacques 1945 Le Folklore Botanique De Caughnawaga. Contributions de l'Institut botanique l'Universite de Montreal 55:7-72 (p. 42)

External links[edit]