Attractive but Relatively Useless Weed

By William T. Hathaway

Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)

The Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) is the commonly-seen buttercup of local fields, lawns and open areas. Its shining upper petals reflect a yellowish glow when held close under our chins.

This weedy flower brings to mind a few thoughtful surprises including the notion that Pittsylvanians often refer to a certain cultivated narcissus as the “Buttercup.” Chin reflections from a narcissus are second in command when compared with the vivid, top-ranked reflections from the bulbous buttercup. Despite my ravings about such trifling minutiae, I never argue against colloquialisms. After all, who is to say that regional names are not more important than technical nomenclature? It is a fact that historical local names were in practical use long before the arrival of botany books.

Aside from the reflective quality of its flowers, we must admit that the bulbous buttercup is a relatively useless weed. It is not only a robber of soil nutrients, but is shunned by livestock because of its bitter and harmful taste.

(Also see further information about the Buttercup.)