Sicilian Buttercup

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Sicilian Buttercup
A Sicilian Buttercup hen
Conservation statusLivestock Conservancy: threatened[1]
Country of originSicily, Italy
  • Male:
    2.95 kg
  • Female:
    2.50 kg
Comb typeButtercup comb
PCGBrare soft feather: light[3]

The Sicilian Buttercup is a breed of domestic chicken originating from the island of Sicily. The breed was imported to the United States in the nineteenth century, and to Britain and Australia early in the twentieth century. It derives from the indigenous Siciliana breed of Sicily, but long separation from the original stock has led to marked differences between the two.


Gallus turcicus, from the Ornithologiae tomus alter of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522–1605)

The Siciliana breed of Sicily appears to derive from ancient inter-breeding of local birds with North African stock[4] such as the rose-combed Berbera breed[5]: 701 [6] or the Tripolitana described by Tucci.[7] These birds may have been similar to the "Gallus turcicus" described by Ulisse Aldrovandi in 1600.[8][9] Similar chickens are depicted in sixteenth-century paintings in the Vatican Museums and the Galleria Borghese in Rome, and in Florence and Paris.[10][11]

In about 1863[12]: 439  or 1877,[13]: 22  a certain Cephas Dawes of Dedham, Massachusetts, captain of the Frutiere, was loading oranges in Sicily and bought a number of chickens to provide meat on his homeward journey. Some of these continued to lay well during the voyage, and were kept for eggs instead. Some of them were later sold to one C. Carroll Loring, also of Dedham, who became the first breeder of what would later become the Sicilian Buttercup.[12]: 439 [13]: 22  All American Buttercups, however, descend from a later shipment of hatchlings, in 1892.[1]

A breeders' association, the American Buttercup Club, was formed the United States in 1912, and by 1914 had 600 members; a similar association formed in Britain in 1913.[14] The Sicilian Buttercup was included in the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1918.[2] It is listed as "threatened" by the American Livestock Conservancy[1] and is on the "Rare and Native Breeds" list of the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Buttercup Chicken The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed June 2015.
  2. ^ a b APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties as of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Archived 1 November 2013.
  3. ^ Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Archived 12 June 2018.
  4. ^ Breed data sheet: Siciliana/Italy in Domestic Animal Diversity Information System Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed January 2012.
  5. ^ Gentile, Giovanni; Calogero Tumminelli (eds.) (1929-39) Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti, Vol. 27. (in Italian) [Roma]: Istituto Giovanni Treccani. "Italian encyclopaedia of science, literature and the arts".
  6. ^ Razza berbera (b) (in Italian) Treccani Vocabolario online. Accessed January 2012.
  7. ^ Tucci, Prof. Francesco (1931) Gli allevamenti del bestiame in Tripolitania (in Italian) Roma: Sindacato italiano arti grafiche. pp.201–205. "Stock-raising in Tripolitania".
  8. ^ Aldrovandi, Ulisse (1600) Ornithologiae tomus alter...cum indice copiosissimo variarum linguarum (in Latin) Bononiae: apud Io. Bapt. Bellagamba. pp.314–316.
  9. ^ Mersch, Nuele Crowned heads and green feet: Siciliana Erhaltungszuchtverein für sizilianische Hühnerrassen. Accessed January 2012
  10. ^ Zanon, Alessio Siciliana (in Italian) Il Pollaio del Re. Accessed January 2012. "The Siciliana"
  11. ^ [s.n.] (1925) Sicilian Buttercup Poultry tribune, Volume 31. Poultry-Dairy Pub. Co. p.50.
  12. ^ a b United States Bureau of Animal Industry (1905) Twenty-first annual report of the Bureau of Animal Industry for the year 1904 Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
  13. ^ a b [s.n.] (1910) Is the Buttercup a daisy? The Country Gentleman, Volume 75. Albany, NY: Luther Tucker & Son.
  14. ^ E. van Benthuysen (11 June 1914). Buttercups – Most Recent Chicken Breed. Butler County Democrat (Hamilton, Ohio). p. 6.
  15. ^ Rare and Native Breeds: Chickens. Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Accessed June 2015.

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