P1010173P1010015Ranunculus hispidus Michx var nitidus (Chapm)

Forb/herb; perennial

Native: L48, Canada

Blooming:  February, March, April, yellow

In late February and March, the buttercups can be found blooming at the landing, but they also bloom  profusely on the river banks which jut out sufficiently into the river to give the plants sun.   The blossoms on the plants at the landing usually are on short stems, the blossom stems are one feet long.

Common to marshy places, Ranunculus hispidus is a highly variable species, known also as bachelor button, blister plant, butter daisy, crazy weed, crowfoot, gold knot, marsh buttercup, pilewort, rough buttercup, spearwort, swamp crowfoot, three-leaved buttercup, three-leaved crowfood and wood buttercup.

What follows is attributed to the species generally, and may not apply to the Womack Creek variant.  The flowers are open only on sunny days and close at night and on rainy days.  The flowers are pollinated by  little carpenter, mason,  halictid & andrenid bees, skipper butterflies, flies and beetles.   Except for the bees which collect the pollen and the beetles which feed on the pollen, the insects suck the nectar.   Depending on its growth cycle, the foliage can be toxic particularly to mammalian herbivores.    Seeds are eaten by wild turkey, rabbits and squirrels.   Beggars used to rub the plant on their arms and legs to create an irritation which rendered them more stricken in order to gain public sympathy.

The traditional medicinal uses are varied and many: the juice of the plant for  treatment of pain, blistering, cuts, wounds,  abcesses, boils, hemorrhoids, nosebleeds and other external infections.  The juice was also used as sedatives and for  treating sore throats and thrush.  In various other preparations it was also used for headaches, to suppress muscle spasms, as a painkiller, to reduce redness of the skin, to constrict tissues and check blood flow, to promote sweating, and to increase the excretion of water from the body.

The name Ranunculus is thought to have originated from a tale about a Libyan boy of that name.  He wore a green and yellow silk tunic and loved to sing,  finally  tiring the wood nymphs who turned him into a flower.   Farmers sometimes hung the flowers over barn doors or rubbed cow udders with the yellow flowers to produce a golden cream.  Folklore also attributed insanity to those who smelled the flower or placed it under one’s neck under a full moon.

Location:  Womack Creek camp site boat landing.  N 30 00.088’W084 33.121′(1.2RL), N30 00.312’W084 33.475′(2.48RL), N30 00.396’W084 33.797′(2.95RR), N 30 00.801’W084 34.249′(3.5RR)