Meadow Buttercup

March 18th, 2012

Latin:  Ranunculus acris

Irish:  Fearbán féir


A native perennial that grows in damp meadows and pastures.  It is erect (up to 70cm tall) and does not have runners.  The leaf blade, although deeply divided, has an almost circular outline.


The glossy yellow flowers are very familiar; they are 15-25mm across and have 5 petals.  Although Meadow Buttercup looks very similar to other buttercup species it can be distinguished from them by the fact that only Meadow Buttercup has a smooth, un-furrowed, pedicel (flower stalk).

All parts of the plant are poisonous and the plant has a strongly acrid juice that can cause blistering to the skin.  Nevertheless, the plant sap has been used to remove warts.

The commonly held belief that if a pasture had lots of buttercups in it that the milk from cows grazing it would be rich and produce golden-coloured butter does not stand up to scrutiny.  Cows generally avoid grazing buttercups.  However, there was an Irish custom of rubbing cows udders with buttercup on May Day in the belief that doing so would protect the cows and their milk.


Specimens can be found at many locations at Castlewarden :  they are especially abundant along the headlands of the practice area, waste areas around the course and in the Builder’s Paddock and in the field at the bend in the Avenue .

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