Ranunculus


‘I AM DAZZLED BY YOUR CHARM’

buttercup-meadow-ranunculus-yellow-wild-free-image-8231

Fields, meadows and grassy places, bristling with golden Buttercups, can be found throughout the northern temperate regions of the world. Look for these lustrous  and delicate looking beauties near creeks, ditches, lakes or other damp places. Ranunculus is a genus of about 600 species including the Buttercups, Spearworts and Crowfoots.  Anemones, Delphinium and Clematis are also in the Ranunculus genus but that is a whole other blog, so stay tuned for that.
Ranunculus comes from the Latin word ‘rana’ meaning ‘frog’. Some references suggest that the name refers to the damp places Ranunculus can usually be found but I also came across a few sites that credit the name to the likeness of a frog’s foot, when examining the foliage. Whatever the case might be, Ranunculus it is.

In the garden

Only a few of the Ranunculus species have become popular garden flower. They are either surprisingly difficult to cultivate or too easy and become weedy. However some Ranunculus varieties have done well as a garden plants and are widely available in garden stores from Fall -Spring. img_1542

Actually a perennial, too much or too little water will destroy this tuberous root and thus Ranunculus are often treated like an annual. Not such a bad strategy as they are such prolific bloomers and  will give you many blooms for your buck when you have healthy plants.
Plant the tuber’s claw pointed end down and 1 to 2 inches deep, less in clay soil. Space jumbos 8 to 12 inches apart (at least one tuber per square foot), number three tubers about 4 inches apart two or three per square foot. See Prolific and Terrific Ranunculus.
Although found naturally in damp places, near creeks and such, most hybrid varieties prefer a well drained place in the garden. garden-arrangements-40They need to be watered regularly but don’t want their roots in constantly damp soil. They will bloom for several weeks but when the temperatures rise, production will stop. Stop watering at that time, they need to stay dry when dormant.
Ranunculus is hardy to zone 8, in mild winter climates they can be  planted in the fall for March-April blooms but in areas with harsher winters it is best to plant in early Spring for July blooms. Make sure to check for aphids, slugs and snails because Ranunculus are their favorite and try to keep the birds away when they first sprout.

Cut Flower

cc-close-up There is much to love and enjoy about Ranunculus in the garden and beyond in the wilder regions of Mother Nature’s  reign but nowhere are they better loved than in the cut-flower industry. The best  variety for this purpose is Ranunculus asiaticus, or Persian Buttercup.
These beauties take their place right next to Peonies, Roses, Tulips and other Grand Dames of the botanical world. She is a remarkably versatile little lady and in reality not nearly as delicate as she looks. Ranunculus wows future brides with their sumptuous blooms of bountiful, tissue-like petals, swirling around and around like a crinoline petticoat. gera-150No one escapes their charm….no one! And for good reasons as they make a great cut-flowers. Stunning in any bridal bouquet but simply dazzling all by itself in a bouquet studded with the blooms.

dscn0446They  hold up in corsages and boutonnieres fine most of the year. I would not really recommend  Ranunculus for body flowers in July or August, although I have seen it done and it worked, but it was not such a sweltering day as it can be that time of year.

Ranunculus is phototropic (like many other flower stems) and should be kept upright at al time or their stems will bend upwards to the light and cause  the stem to be crooked. If Ranunculus goes limp, you can wrap them in damp newspaper, re-cut on a slant and allow them to stand upright for several hours in warm water and preservative. Their vase life is 6 to 10 days but keep in mind that it is important to keep the water clean.
The newer varieties grow up to 16-18″ tall which makes them so versatile in bouquets and arrangements, what’s not to love?  dscn3557
Ranunculus is available most of the year except maybe during the hottest summer months and they come in a myriad of pinks-, whites-, yellow- , red- and orange tones. Pair them with Forget-Me Not’s, Sweet Peas, Linaria, Snapdragon etc. for a charming and romantic mixed bouquet. For a stunningly elegant bouquet combine Ranunculus with Roses or Peonies, complimenting and repeating the bigger blooms in the bouquet. Your bride will love it, how can she not? She’s Dazzled By Her Charm!

Herbal/ Medicinal use.

herbs

All parts of Ranunculus is toxic to humans and livestock and is known to cause severe blistering of the mouth when eaten by cows or sheep as well as bloody diarrhea, excessive salivation and colic. The taste is bitter so fortunately not many people or animals are tempted to eat it and will stay away from Buttercups. They have also been known to cause dermatitis, so maybe that is one thing not to love about them, but I have had no such problems myself.
Ranunculus is used in herbal medicine. Due to it’s toxicity level I want to stress the importance of consulting with a skilled herbalist or homeopath, which I am not, this is just a mentioning of the wide variety of uses Ranunculus has.
A Modern Herbal by mrs. M Grieve reveals Bulbous Buttercup possesses the property of inflaming and blistering the skin

Medicinal Herb Info. reports under medicinal uses: Counterirritant, anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic; external rubefacient, epispastic.

In homeopathy  Ranunculus bulbosus is known to be a painful remedy, affecting nerves341749-homeo-1 muscles, eyes, serous membranes, chest, skin, fingers, toes and left side, according to Robin Murphy, ND

Folklore

Here in the Pacific NW legend has it that the mythological creature Coyote was tossing his eyes up in the air and unfortunately lost them to Eagle who flew by and snatched up those beauties in plain sight. Much of this story leaves me with many questions, and alas I can not answer these questions but whatever the case may be; Coyote found himself without any eyes. However he was a clever creature and what happened next: he simply picked up a few Buttercups (which he probably had spotted before he decided to play games with his eyes) and inserted  them into his skull exactly where his eyes had once been and Coyote was good as gold again. So  there, do not despair when you find your eyes are flying through the air, Buttercups can help you stare and life will be once again be fair. Now please do share.

blog-new-xx-coyote-lepping_dsc3488

Pollinators

Published by

Marianna

I am a florist and urban flower farmer, I grow my flowers sustainably in underused and neglected areas in my North Portland neighborhood. I make floral designs for all sorts of occasions and also peddle flowers at the local flower market.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s