Ranunculus, part of the Ranunculaceae family, are herbaceous perennials and annuals. Also known as buttercups, ranunculus are characterized by mostly vibrant yellow or white flowers, although there are red and orange flowers, as well. They tend to flower in April and May.
There are approximately 400 different species of buttercups around the world. Buttercups generally appear in cold, temperate regions, or on tropical mountains. The majority of ranunculus species are land-based, although several species grow in standing and shallow waters.
Ranunculus plants bear a dry fruit, which is called achene. Achenes are tiny and tend to be tipped with a small hook or spine, which is known as a beak. Varieties of buttercups can often be identified by the beak's size and shape. Achenes are one-seeded fruits.
Ranunculus have alternate leaves that are either completely basal or mostly basal; basal leaves are those that shoot up directly from the plant's base. The basal leaves generally are long-stalked. The leaves of the stem tend to be short-stalked or entirely stalk-free. The leaves are either simple shapes or palmate.
The flowers that are produced by ranunculus plants appear out of buds that are located on top of the stem. The flowers are showy and on long stalks. They grow singularly or within clusters. The flowers consist of five sepals and five petals (occasionally there are less or more) and are white or yellow. As the flowers get older, they tend to become whiter in color.
Ranunculus thrive when cultivated under full sun. They require soil that is either neutral or mildly acidic. The plants can be grown successfully in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 12. The flowers bloom towards the end of the spring or around the start of the summertime.