Yellow Glow Beneath Your Chin

By William T. Hathaway

Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)

This is by far the most commonly found buttercup in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Its shining petals reflect a yellow glow beneath your chin, if the open flower is held just below your lower jaw. Most of us have experienced this demonstration in our younger years.

The bright yellow petals are much longer than the sepals that are positioned below the petals, and the roots form a bulb-like structure. Oftentimes, this relatively long-stemmed, weedy wildflower can be seen growing in lawns, meadows and waysides during May thru June.

Gray's Manual of Botany, largely rewritten and expanded by Prof. Merritt Lyndon Fernald, explains that the generic name Ranunculus is a Latin name for a little frog; applied by Pliny to these plants, the aquatic species growing where frogs abound.

(Also see these illustrations in larger format, and further information about the Buttercup.)