Ranunculus is the name of a vast genus of plants. Ranunculus is part of the Ranunculaceae family. There are approximately 400 different plant species within the family. The majority of plants in the ranunculus genus are herbaceous perennials that produce vibrant white or yellow flowers. However, biennial and annual plants also exist within the family.
The name of the genus is extracted from the Late Latin language and translates directly to mean "little frog." The name comes from the fact that many varieties of ranunculus plants appear close to the water, as do frogs.
Most ranunculus plants have flowers that are either yellow or white in color. The white flowers are yellow towards the center. Although significantly less common, there are also ranunculus species that have red or yellow flowers. In some cases, such as with the Ranunculus auricomus, the flower completely lacks petals.
Plants that are part of the ranunculus genus are frequently used as a source of food by Lepidoptera larvae, particularly the small angle shades and Hebrew character varieties. Apart from being used as a food source, Ranunculus plants are often used for ornamental purposes due to their bright and attractive appearances (particularly their big, showy flowers).
All of the types of ranunculus plants are toxic if they are freshly consumed by livestock, particularly horses and cattle. Some common symptoms of poison from ranunculus plants include salivating excessively, bloody diarrhea and colic.
Some particularly common and popular varieties of Ranunculus plants include the plantain leaf buttercup, Alpine buttercup, corn buttercup, lesser celandine, low spearwort, spiny fruit buttercup, hooked crowfoot, glacier buttercup, delicate buttercup and water buttercup.