Ranunculus Flowers: A Rose-Like Blossoms Almost Too Perfect to Be Real

A person holding a bouquet of orange flowers
Photo Courtesy by Kristina Paukshtite

About Ranunculus Flowers

Ranunculus is a flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae. Often referred to as the rose of spring, although flowers may be found throughout the summer months. Their rose-like blossoms have tissue-thin petals. They come in colors that range from cream and pale yellow to apricot, pink, orange, red, and burgundy. Ranunculus is a large genus of about six hundred species of flowering plants and one of the most popular cut flowers. It is a flowering plant bearing some great qualities - tall stems, double-ruffled blooms, a light citrusy fragrance, and high productivity. It is also one with the widest color ranges available. Though not often seen in home gardens, the exquisite flowers of ranunculus are a staple in high-end flower shops and wedding bouquets. So, it is impossible not to fall head over heels for these beauties.

These beauties need extra protection from cold temperatures, however, if meticulously cultivated, they will produce a wealth of blossoms all through the early months of spring. Members of the species are known as buttercups, spearworts, and water crowfoots. The well-known and ubiquitous buttercup of gardens all over Northern Europe is the creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens, which has very tough and strong, clinging roots. The globular buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus and the much taller grassland buttercup Ranunculus acris are the two other species that are also widespread. In the field of ornamental gardens, these three are habitually considered weeds.

The Toxic Behind the Beauty of the Rose of Spring

All species of Ranunculus (buttercup) are poisonous to both animals and humans when eaten fresh. But their unpleasant taste and the mouth blistering triggered by their poison means they should be left uneaten. Livestock poisoning would happen where buttercups are plentiful in overgrazed grasslands. This often happens when not much other edible plant growth is left, and the animals will eat them out of desperation.

When the leaves of buttercups are smashed, they let loose a compound known as ranunculin that breaks down into an acrid, toxic oil called protoanemonin. Making contact with this protoanemonin would result in dermatitis - causing burning and itching with accompanying rash and blisters. The toxic oil is also a serious eye irritant. Swallowing buttercups or some of it will find in some world of untold pains. These include but are not limited to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, vomiting, and even paralysis. Although this Ranunculus beauty differs in concentrations of poisonousness, certain plant species are at their very toxic state in springtime when thriving and flowering. Dead and dried plants are considered safe.

Furthermore, the most harmful perpetrators in North America are the tall buttercup (Ranunculus acris), the creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), and the cursed buttercup (Ranunculus sceleratus), just to name a few. Bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus), which is by far regarded as a prospective famine food, has globular roots that are acerbic when fresh but can be eaten when boiled or dried completely.