The Ranunculus Species

Overview

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.

Name

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.

Characteristics

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.

Uses

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).

Toxic

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.

Common Species

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.

Keywords: ranunculus plants, ranunculus genus, buttercup ranunculus

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.